A pilot scheme of raceday saliva tests for jockeys to detect cocaine and other banned substances is now under way.
The joint-venture, developed by the British Horseracing Authority and the Professional Jockeys Association, began this week, with tests taken at Kempton on Monday and Lingfield on Tuesday.
Announced in February on the same day as jockey Philip Prince received a six-month suspension following a positive cocaine test, the intention is that oral swabs will be able to quickly indicate the presence of any banned substance, above the existing thresholds, in a rider’s system.
Under the pilot, any jockey who does not test negative would be stood down from riding for the day, with racing set to become the first major sport in Britain to utilise on-the-day screening for banned substances through oral swabs, should the pilot prove successful.
The BHA said the pilot will continue over a period of two months, “during which time the testing methodology and raceday procedures can be assessed and improved where necessary, prior to a decision being taken as to whether the matrix can be rolled out on a more permanent basis”.
BHA chief regulatory officer Brant Dunshea said: “Saliva testing is a progressive next step for our testing and surveillance of prohibited substances. In particular, the fact that it provides near-instant results means that we are now able to screen for the substance on the day of race.
“The fact that it is a more cost-effective methodology will also allow us to significantly ramp up our testing capacity – something that we are supporting further through the allocation of an enhanced testing budget.
“This should serve to act both as a deterrent to those who might consider using prohibited substances and provide reassurance to those who are competing on raceday.”