Hundred-plus horses in fresh doping claims

Frank Dalleres
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BRITISH horse racing chiefs are urgently investigating after Newmarket trainer Gerard Butler suggested more than 100 horses from numerous stables may have been injected with banned steroids.

Butler made the allegation yesterday as he admitted that he had given several horses in his care a treatment for injured joints that he says he later learned contained anabolic steroids.

He said the medicine – Sungate – was prescribed by a vet and that he had declared its use to the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), but accepted he had been responsible for an “unpardonable misjudgement”.

However, he warned that he believed many other Newmarket trainers had “misunderstood” the legality of Sungate, claiming that more than 100 horses at British flat racing’s base may have been compromised.

It is another blow to British racing, following last week’s revelation that 15 horses at Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin stables were give steroids, costing trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni an eight-year ban.

The BHA confirmed yesterday that horses in Butler’s care had tested positive for banned substances in February and that it had since warned trainers off Sungate.

“This investigation remains ongoing and a number of other parties have been and will be interviewed, including representatives of the veterinary practice in question,” the BHA said.

“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.

“Immediately following the results of the testing in training, the BHA, in conjunction with the National Trainers’ Federation, notified trainers that the product in question contains an anabolic steroid and should not be used on any horse in training.”

Butler, who may face a ban if found guilty, said he had used Sungate in good faith. He added: “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.”