Hair sample testing of racing animals set to improve integrity

The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) has commenced testing the hair of racing animals for prohibited substances.

Testing hair samples determines if there has been any use of prohibited substances in the lead up time well before a race.

QRIC Racing Science Centre (RSC) Director Dr Shawn Stanley said historically, anti-doping laboratories test blood, urine and saliva to detect substance abuse through pre and post-race testing, but the use of some prohibited substances in the weeks leading up to a race cannot be detected.

“Hair sampling leaves the cheaters with nowhere to hide,” he said.

“The Commission does out of competition testing of body fluids, but with our current approach we have to rely on intelligence gathering to determine which animals to test, and the ideal time to collect the sample, this is much less of an issue if the substance suspected of being used can be detected in hair.

“Banned substances including anabolic agents such as anabolic androgenic steroids along with hormones and metabolic modulators will be targeted with hair testing.

“Hair retains the traces of prohibited substances for months, acting like a reservoir for drugs that have been administered over time.”

Hair samples will be collected and tested across the three codes of racing with hair taken from Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Greyhound racing animals.

Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett said blood, urine and hair all provided a different window for the detection of prohibited substances in racing animals and the welcome addition of hair sampling to the Commission’s testing arsenal will enhance the integrity of racing in Queensland.

“The Commission is always looking for new and innovative ways to ensure there is a level playing field for participants and for the betting public and this is our latest innovation in the testing space,” he said.

“This is a simple, non-invasive test, but it could have far reaching implications for anyone planning to use prohibited substances to avoid the Commission’s testing regime.

“If prohibited substances are proven through hair testing it is a breach of the rules and participants will be charged.

“We have commenced taking a small number of out of competition samples from greyhounds and we will start taking hair samples from racehorses shortly.”

Following an initial sampling and testing phase the RSC will supervise the full implementation of hair sampling as a regular procedure for Queensland’s racing animals.”

Media contact: Vincene Overs 0472 842 346