Unfortunately, doping has been around in sport for decades as sportsmen and women of all persuasions look to gain an advantage over their rivals; by fair means or foul.
In most cases, doping is a deliberate act of cheating – despite the protestations of all involved.
And yet, sometimes, a failed doping test can be something of an accident, and come as a complete shock to the ‘guilty’ party.
That’s exactly what happened this week at the culmination of an enquiry into two Suzi Best winners at Kempton almost a year ago.
Heal and Grow
It was at a meeting on the all-weather at Kempton in February 2018 where Best enjoyed her success.
Two of the trainer’s horses, Outrath and Ertidaad, were randomly tested following their wins, and their samples came back positive for minoxidil, a stimulant found in the hair growth shampoo Regaine – used by Best’s brother-in-law and yard assistant Tom.
Incidentally, Tom Best saddled both horses on the fateful raceday.
As well as potentially restoring flowing locks, minoxidil as an ingredient is also proven to lower blood pressure in humans – and is banned in horses because it may have a positive pharmacological effect. As such, there are no veterinary supplements available that contain minoxidil.
A question of guilt – was this a deliberate ploy to enhance their horse’s abilities, or merely a bizarre coincidence – came down on the side of the Bests, but both victories have been scrubbed from their respective records.
The BHA’s investigation team remarked on how helpful the training duo had been, even going as far to provide the Regaine packaging that was responsible for the contamination. The BHA accepted that this was the most likely way for the minoxidil to have found its way into the horses’ samples, and as such only a fine has been issued instead of a fixed-term ban.
Suzi Best was not present at the BHA’s hearing, but accepted the charges and released a statement in which she wrote: “As the horses were under my care and control I take full responsibility even though I had no reason to believe it could result in a positive, my assistant has been using the product for many years and neither of us had the slightest idea this could happen.
“As the trainer I take full responsibility for the unfortunate circumstances that led to the positives and am devastated.”
Simply the Best
The Bests have been in front of all manner of panels recently, and the latest movement sees Suzi’s training licence amended to allow her banned partner Jim back onto UK and Irish racecourses when his husband has a runner in the field.
He was previously banned, with his own licence suspended for six months back in 2016 for instructing a jockey to stop two horses.
But a request from Suzi saw her own licence modified by the committee, and from now on Jim will be allowed at meetings which she is racing at via general admission only.