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Racing taking steps to combat drug use
Mandy Cottell
06:45 AEST Fri Feb 8 2013

Racing NSW chief steward Ray Murrihy has responded to concerns raised by the Australian Crime Commission over drugs in racing, saying the sport is continuing to take steps in the right direction.

The ACC on Thursday released the findings of a 12-month investigation that found banned drugs were being widely used in Australian professional sport.

While the bulk of the report concerned human athletes, thoroughbred racing didn't escape their investigations.

"The ACC has also identified the administration of peptides and hormones to thoroughbred racehorses, which is a breach of the Rules of Racing," the report states.

Murrihy said Racing NSW had been briefed by the ACC.

"We're certainly alive to the issues which the Australian Crime Commission raised," Murrihy said.

"We don't have any specific information at this stage regarding New South Wales racing but we will continue to liaise as they are able to give us information.

"But we're going to be pre-armed anyway."

Murrihy said the industry had recently spent $1.5 million fitting out the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory with new equipment "designed to pick up these new-age drugs".

Out-of-competition swabs are also performed regularly with around 16,000 tests conducted each year.

Murrihy added that as recently as Monday, every horse in a particular stable at Warwick Farm underwent testing.

The recent purchase of new freezing facilities also means samples can be stored and revisited when technology improves in the future.

Peptides, which can increase the levels of growth hormones and aid recovery from soft tissue injuries, were mentioned throughout the ACC report.

Murrihy says the substances have been well known to racing officials for some time and the rules prohibiting them are stringent.

"They're banned completely in the racing industry," he said.

"There are rules, not only in administering them, but if they're found in your stable, you're liable."