Trainer Gerard Butler was disqualified for five years by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) on Wednesday after nine horses in his care tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid stanozolol.
The Irishman, who is based in Newmarket, admitted injecting horses with a product for injured joints, and faced seven charges of breaching the Rules of Racing.
Butler admitted in April to giving a treatment called Sungate into the fetlock and knee joints of four horses: Azrag, Zain Eagle, Zain Spirit and Prince Alzain. But he had instead been using Rexogin, which contains stanozolol at a concentration that was 10 times that of Sungate.
The UK Steroids Pharmacy website where he purchased the treatment quoted that it contained a steroid that had been discovered in many doping cases, including that of the disgraced sprinter Ben Johnson at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
The 47-year-old, whose major wins include the 1999 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown with Compton Admiral, argued that vets assured him the substance did not breach rules.
But the panel concluded that his actions were “an appalling breach of his duty to look after the interests of the horses in his care and amounted to conduct that was seriously prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of horse racing in Great Britain”.
Butler bought five boxes of the drug with his own money and did not claim them as a deductable yard expense to avoid his accountant finding out, according to the BHA.
He injected them without veterinary advice and breached other racing rules by failing to keep a record of the treatments he used and allowing vets to administer their own treatments without informing them of the injections.
“This was a serious and repeated breach of the rules by an experienced trainer using different preparations of stano- zolol which was absolutely prohibited from use in horses in his care,” the BHA said.
He is the second trainer to be banned this year by the BHA for doping horses. Mahmood al Zarooni, who trained for Godolphin owner and Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, was banned by the BHA for eight years after being found guilty of administering anabolic steroids at his stables in Newmarket.