Racing integrity protected with $4 million Coalition grant / Victoria / 14 Nov, 2011

Racing integrity in Victoria has received a major boost with Minister for Racing Denis Napthine announcing $4 million in funding to detect new and emerging biological drugs used to enhance the performance of racing animals.

The announcement means Victoria will become the first state in Australia capable of effectively testing for biological drugs, such as EPO and growth hormones, on home soil rather than sending samples overseas.

“Providing $4 million across four years for drug research by Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) will make Victoria the nation’s leader in ensuring integrity across all racing codes and creating a level playing field for all involved,” Dr Napthine said.

“Racing is a major economic driver for Victoria, generating more than $2 billion annually and employing more than 70,000 Victorians. The Victorian Coalition Government recognises how important it is to protect our industry from those who might seek to gain an unfair advantage by using banned substances.

“RASL has identified three major drug threats to the racing industry – biological and bio-engineered drugs, designer drugs and genetic manipulation.

“Delivering on this election committment will enable RASL to combat these drugs by moving to biological testing, rather than just chemical, which will ensure the integrity of Victoria’s racing industry is upheld.”

The funding will specifically help RASL identify and positively detect biological drugs by:

> Purchasing new testing equipment
> Hiring specialist laboratory staff
> Developing methodologies for testing of biological drugs
> Undertaking further research

Chairman of the board of Racing Analytical Services Limited Dr John McCaffrey said the funding would enable Victoria to have a world-class drug research program.

“The racing industry has been crying out for meaningful funding for drug research for a number of years. The Victorian Government has been the first to act on this and is to be commended for its foresight and commitment to an important employer and driver of revenue in this state,” Dr McCaffrey said.

“This will be one of the best funded drug research programs in the world and will give the racing community the confidence to invest and participate in an industry that has a strong commitment to integrity and provides a level playing field across the board, while also protecting the health and welfare of all horses and riders.”

RASL Laboratory Director Dr John Vine said the funds demonstrated the government’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of racing into the future.

“These research funds will allow the Victorian Racing Industry to respond instantly to new and developing drug threats to the integrity of racing. This research program will ensure that Victorian racing is ready to meet the emerging drug threats posed by biotechnology in the next five years,” Dr Vine said.

The funding will come from the Coalition Government’s $79.5 million Victorian Racing Industry Fund, which returns unclaimed wagering dividends and on-course wagering taxes to the Victorian racing industry.

“This fund has enabled this exciting, cutting edge research which will ensure Victorian Racing retains its competitive edge for years to come,” Dr Napthine said.

“RASL is a not-for-profit organisation, funded through its commercial operations. This new revenue stream will make it the nation’s leader in testing for biological drugs in racing.”