Having listened carefully to those concerns, the Board is pleased to announce today the introduction to our new Anti-Doping Code. The Anti-Doping Code can be found at britishshowhorse.org and will be incorporated into the British Show Horse Association Rules from 2021. All samples taken from that date will be subject to the provisions of the Anti-Doping Code.
The Code sets out four over-riding principles which are:
(1) to protect the integrity of classes
(2) to protect the welfare of horses and ponies
(3) to protect the safety of human competitors and in particular children and vulnerable adults
(4) to protect the safety of judges and other officials as well as members of the public through the control and limitation of the use of prohibited substances.
As is currently the case, the Association continues to adopt the prohibited substance list published by the FEI. However, the BSHA has undertaken, on request from their membership, to seek professional guidance when setting their bromide threshold and this will be published on the website and thereafter included within the online rulebook (2021). The Code places responsibility on every member who has custody or control of a horse or pony or where they are responsible for the care of a horse or pony to safeguard and to protect them from ingesting or coming into contact with a prohibited substance. The obligation is strict and reflects the Board’s belief that our sport should take a firm approach in relation to positive tests.
The Anti-Doping Code sets out the duties of every member, lists 11 circumstances that would constitute a breach of the Code and sets out in straightforward terms the sampling process and the procedure in the event that a sample test is positive.
The policy has been written to reflect fairness in circumstances where a member is able to fully demonstrate why they are not at fault in the event of a positive test and firmness in circumstances where a member cannot do so. The Code imposes a set of minimum penalties which, other than in the most exceptional cases, will be periods of suspension, and specific provision is made to ensure that at least two-thirds of any period of disqualification is served during the active showing season.
An independent Anti-Doping Code Panel will be selected to decide each case, made up of three members taken from an Anti-Doping Code Panel Pool. In each case, the Panel will be made up of a legally qualified chair and two other panel members who will have appropriate experience in equine sport and/or veterinary science or other appropriate and relevant sphere. Members involved in Anti-Doping Code hearings will be entitled at their own expense to legal representation although the Code is written to enable members and the Association to represent themselves, and there will be a right of appeal both for members and the Association.
Mindful of the need for the Code to be accessible it has been written to promote fairness and transparency. The introduction of a legally qualified chair on every panel will ensure independence and judicial fairness at every hearing.
The Code represents a positive step forward in the protection of our sport and that the robust and significant measures that it introduces will act as a deterrent to the very small minority who would otherwise be tempted to take a chance. For those that are not deterred a long suspension will now be the norm for anyone found to be in breach of the BSHA Anti-Doping Code rules.