By: Michelle Balaklaw, Staff Member
In the Bluegrass State, the fall season is yet another reason to celebrate Kentucky’s title as the horse capital of the world. Most notably, Keeneland’s September horse sale is the world’s largest yearling sale,[i] attracting both domestic and international buyers.[ii] However, a new regulation set forth by the British Horseracing Authority limiting the use of anabolic steroids in horses poses a potential threat to future horse sales worldwide.[iii]
The horse racing industry lacks a centralized governing body,[iv] meaning that regulations vary from country to country.[v] The fragmentation of horse racing governance can lead to difficulties in addressing industry issues.[vi] At the forefront of such issues is the use of drugs in horse racing.
On June 26, 2014, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) announced a zero-tolerance policy towards the use of anabolic steroids in horses to be implemented beginning January 1, 2015.[vii] In pursuance with this regulation, any British-bred horse, or foreign horse racing in Britain, shall not be administered an anabolic steroid at any time in its life.[viii] Violation of the policy will result in a horse being banned from training for a twelve-month period, while also being ineligible to run in any British race for a fourteen-month period.[ix]
The full impact of the BHA regulation remains to be seen. Concerns have arisen with regard to the zero-tolerance nature of the policy, which can affect horse sales due to misinterpretation of test results.[x] Test results may not adequately discriminate between anabolic steroids and normally occurring horse hormones.[xi] In addition, this new policy will likely create changes in the market price for horses. Buyers looking to breed or race in Britain are likely to pay higher prices for horses that are in compliance with the BHA policy. Yet, at the same time, it is possible that the number of horse sales will decrease. Owners may decide not to race in Britain due to the additional expense of arriving to British races two weeks prior to comply with testing.[xii]
The September 2014 Keeneland sale ended with numbers that closely mirrored those of the 2013 sale, reflecting a “healthy trend toward market stability and confidence in the Thoroughbred industry.”[xiii] These recent numbers seem unaffected by the BHA’s new policy. However, the September 2015 sale will be more indicative of the industry’s reaction to this new British policy.
[i] Keeneland Begins 71st September Yearling Sale on Monday, Keeneland (Sept. 5, 2014), http://www.keeneland.com/sales/keeneland-begins-71st-september-yearling-sale-monday.
[ii] Market Stability Reigns As Keeneland September Sale Concludes, Keeneland (Sept. 21, 2014), http://www.keeneland.com/about/market-stability-reigns-keeneland-september-sale-concludes.
[iii] BHA Announces Zero-Tolerance Policy Towards Anabolic Steroids, Brit. Horseracing Authority (June 26, 2014), http://www.britishhorseracing.com/press_releases/bha-announces-zero-tolerance-policy-towards-anabolic-steroids/.
[iv] Anthony Russolello, Avoiding a Triple Frown: The Need For a National Horse Racing Commission, Animal Hist. & Legal Center, https://www.animallaw.info/article/avoiding-triple-frown-need-national-horse-racing-commission#_ftn3 (last visited Oct. 1, 2014).
[v] Christa Lesté-Lasserre, Anti-Doping Regulation Challenges in International Racing, theHorse.com (May 17, 2014), http://www.thehorse.com/articles/33891/anti-doping-regulation-challenges-in-international-racing.
[vii] BHA Announces Zero-Tolerance Policy Towards Anabolic Steroids, Brit. Horseracing Authority (June 26, 2014), http://www.britishhorseracing.com/press_releases/bha-announces-zero-tolerance-policy-towards-anabolic-steroids/.
[viii] British Horseracing Authority, Anabolic Steroids Policy (2014), available at http://www.britishhorseracing.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Anabolic-Steroids-Policy-June-2014.pdf.
[x] Gregory A. Hall, As Keeneland Sales Near, Steroid Issues Loom, The Courier-J. (Sept. 5, 2014), http://www.courier-journal.com/story/money/2014/09/05/keeneland-september-yearling-sale-nears-steroid-issue-looms/15131103/.
[xii] Chris Smith, New Hard Line on Steroids: Keeneland Unaffected; Hope for U.S. Runners in Britain, Thoroughbred Racing (Sept. 18, 2014), https://www.thoroughbredracing.com/articles/new-hard-line-steroids-keeneland-unaffected-hope-us-runners-britain.
[xiii] Market Stability Reigns As Keeneland September Sale Concludes, Keeneland (Sept. 21, 2014), http://www.keeneland.com/about/market-stability-reigns-keeneland-september-sale-concludes.