The HRI expressed its concern at high-profile cases, including that of Tipperary trainer Philip Fenton.
It said absolute priority would be given to tackling such issues and that any necessary measures will be taken in order to maintain the reputation of Ireland’s racing and bloodstock industry. It will set up an industry taskforce including representatives of the Turf Club, Association of Irish Racehorse Owners, Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Irish Racehorse Trainers Association and Sales companies to work with all parties to ensure that Ireland’s drug-testing regime for racing and breeding operates to the highest international standards.
The Board stated its “unequivocal position” that illegal performance-enhancing drugs have no place in the Irish racing and breeding industries.
In particular, the Board supported the position of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) that the use of anabolic steroids should not be permitted in or out of competition. In this regard, the Board welcomed the previous announcement of enhanced testing, including out of competition testing, to be undertaken by the Turf Club.
The Board noted that new protocols for drug testing and laboratory certification were being developed by the IFHA, and that this was a challenge which was being faced by racing and breeding authorities globally.
Horse Racing Ireland Chairman, Joe Keeling and Neville O’Byrne, Senior Steward of the Turf Club issued a joint communique, stating: “We consider this to be a fundamental issue for the Irish racing and breeding industries.
“This is a global challenge which all racing and breeding authorities are facing, and Ireland must have a system that meets best international standards. It is a complex area, which requires an industry wide response, and for this reason the Board has agreed to establish a new representative taskforce to ensure a co-ordinated and long-term plan for this area.”