In light of the interview on last night's Channel 4 News (16th May) with the British Horseracing Authority's (BHA) Chief Executive Paul Bittar, in which he was specifically asked to comment on the veterinary product Sungate, the BHA has released the following statement and update.

Sungate is a product developed by an Italian company, produced and licensed for equine use in Italy. Its use in the UK is legal, but only when imported under the Special Import Certificate scheme administered by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.

The product is intended to assist in the treatment and management of joint disease in horses. Sungate contains stanozolol, an anabolic steroid and consequently a prohibited substance under the Rules of Racing.

The BHA became aware of the use of the product on horses in training following a visit to Gerard Butler's yard in February 2013 as part of its testing in training sampling programme. Subsequently it became apparent that a veterinary practice, which had legally imported Sungate into the UK, had recommended its initial administration to horses in the care of Gerard Butler.

The BHA has met with representatives of the veterinary practice in question. As a result of that meeting the BHA believes that Gerard Butler was not the only trainer to whom the administration of Sungate was recommended.

Veterinary surgeons are not bound by the Rules of Racing, but are subject to their own rules of professional conduct. Therefore in order to establish the extent of the use of the product, BHA Investigating Officers will be interviewing trainers who are known to use the same veterinary practice.

Under the Rules of Racing, licensed trainers are strictly liable for the administration of any prohibited substances administered to horses under their care and control.

(Source: britishhorseracing.com)