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One of the best Christmas presents racing could give itself would be an end to this year’s saga of drug treatments of horses. The Mahmood Al Zarooni business was dealt with swiftly, and as a result, Charlie Appleby had the good fortune to be able to step up to the plate as a Godolphin trainer.
The British Horseracing Authority enquiry into the second major miscreant, Gerard Butler, took rather longer to complete. Only last week did the BHA announce its findings, and with them, the decision to ban the trainer for five years. Butler admitted seven charges against him of using anabolic steroids, with nine of the horses in his yard providing positive samples.
Some of these involved the use of Sungate, a joint treatment containing the banned substance stanozolol. But it was the other samples that were more serious, and in particular, Butler’s own role in their use. He directly administered Rexogin, which is about ten times the strength of stanozolol, to four horses himself.
He said after the hearing that he had made a big mistake for which he was paying a big price. That ought to have been the end of it, but now Butler has said he thinks the price is too high. He has decided to appeal against the length of his ban.
The BHA tweeted, “Gerard Butler has appealed against the findings of the Disciplinary Panel on 4 Dec 2013 and the penalties imposed upon him. Butler was disqualified for five years after admitting seven breaches of the Rules of Racing. No date for a hearing has yet been set. Butler will remain a disqualified person in the meantime.”
Let’s hope this can be disposed of quickly and we hear no more about this kind of behaviour next year.