NTF statement on Hughie Morrison result

The Disciplinary Panel’s decision to fine rather than ban Hughie Morrison is in the NTF’s opinion a fair and balanced result on the evidence.

The NTF has said it before but it bears repeating that this and other cases involving prohibited substance have left trainers feeling very vulnerable. We are pleased that the Disciplinary Panel, while having regard to the requirement for strict liability, is taking a broader view of the issues and not accepting without question the arguments run by the BHA’s legal team. We believe the Panel’s approach is the right one for the best interests of the sport.

Nothing in our statement should lead to any doubt that the NTF supports racing’s anti-doping policy generally and zero tolerance of anabolic steroids. However, today the NTF is calling for the BHA to review aspects of its management of anti-doping regulation. There are a number of issues but one is that it is not good enough for the regulator to hide behind trainers’ strict liability to avoid a thorough investigation, particularly when the stakes are as high as they were in this case.. The BHA requires not only the confidence of the public in the integrity of racing but also the confidence of its participants that they will be treated with sufficient care in the course of an investigation. The BHA’s reason for not conducting a hair test on Our Little Sister does not stand up to scrutiny.

A point that bears on the BHA’s duty of care to defendants is that in spite of the recent announcement of a route to pro bono legal representation, there are very few trainers who could afford to go to the lengths Hughie Morrison could to mount the defence he needed. NTF members have access to our legal expenses insurance scheme but even that is not able to fully cover very costly litigation.

Rupert Arnold