BRITISH racing lurched back into crisis on Monday as a second Newmarket trainer admitted to using anabolic steroids on his horses.
Gerard Butler has told the BHA that several of his horses received treatment consisting of injections of anabolic steroids for injured joints. The trainer believes more than 100 racehorses across Newmarket may have been given the same treatment.
The news comes just days after Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni received an eight-year ban for administering anabolic steroids to 15 horses under his care, a scandal which thrust British racing into the worldwide media spotlight.
However, unlike in the Al Zarooni case, Butler said the treatment came recommended by vets and included the injections in his official medical records which were seen and returned by the BHA without comment.
Butler told the Independent: “It did not cross my mind that there could be any problem with this medication. And, judging from the fact that the BHA said nothing about it when they saw my medical book, it does not seem to have crossed their minds, either.”
Butler believes the medication, known as Sungate and containing the steroid stanozolol, to have been commonly recommended by vets in Newmarket for the treatment of joint injuries.
“I have been very uncomfortable over the past few days, hearing and reading about the Al Zarooni case,” he said.
“I feel people need to know about what has happened in my yard. I know I’m obliged to satisfy myself that each and every treatment is within the rules, and I failed to do so in this case.
“But I am certain that this medication has been misunderstood by many others. And I just hope that the BHA is being suitably rigorous in establishing whether that is indeed the case.”
Butler, who said he is co-operating with the BHA, stressed the anabolic steroids were injected directly to the joint rather than to the muscle, as they are when used for performance enhancing reasons.
He added: “I have been totally candid throughout, and it was I who told the BHA that I had treated four colts in December and January. I’m not trying to defend myself, just to explain what happened. And I must emphasise I was advised in good faith by my vets.”
The BHA issued a statement on Monday afternoon which said: “While conscious of the need not to prejudice the outcome of the current enquiry, the investigation has established that the source of the positive samples was a veterinary product, licensed in the EU and legally imported for use by a veterinary practice, the initial administration of which was recommended by a vet.
“This investigation remains ongoing and a number other parties have been and will be interviewed, including representatives of the veterinary practice in question. One of the objectives of this investigation is to clarify the extent to which this product has been distributed and administered to horses in training.”
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