Racing watchdog backs drug-testing regime after Gain feed episode

POSTED ON  |  12-10-2020

St Mark's Basilica
Irish racing’s regulatory body has backed its drug testing standards as investigations continue into the Gain feed contamination controversy. On Friday the Joseph O’Brien-trained Pretty Gorgeous won the Group One bet365 Fillies Mile at Newmarket just five days after being denied a run at Longchamp’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe meeting.

She was one of 11 horses trained by Aidan, Joseph and Donnacha O’Brien forced out of last weekend’s Arc card after traces of the prohibited substance Zilpaterol were found in their systems by a French laboratory the night before they were due to race.

Traces of the drug, which is used to fatten cattle in the US and banned in Europe, were initially detected in urine samples from racehorses in France and linked to a contaminated batch of feed from the Gain equine nutrition firm.

The O’Briens were among those using Gain feed and all trainers were immediately advised to switch to different products. On Friday evening the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) reported that more elective sample tests on Irish-trained horses that had been withdrawn from using Gain products for four days or more had returned negative.

Fast-tracked elective testing for connections worried about a post-race positive result for Zilpaterol has been available in Ireland and Britain. The drug testing for both jurisdictions is done at the LGC laboratory in Newmarket in England.

Questions have been raised as to how French testing procedures uncovered the positive results for Zilpaterol while no such positives were returned in Ireland and Britain with the suggestion that French testing standards are more stringent.

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