AHSA Drug Testing Policy & Control System

Notice to AHSA Membership 

In light of the recent addition of the Clean Sport section to the AHSA website, there has been much discussion with respect to the Drug Testing and Control Policy and the commitment of the AHSA to this essential aspect of equine competition and welfare. Many comments have been made with respect to rule and article (constitution) changes. We wish to advise our members that there has been no ‘rule change’ or amendment to the Articles of Association.

The Policy simply sets out the process for drug testing, not the penalty. The 2017 AHSA Rule Book stipulated that the use of banned and/or prohibited substances on horses in competition was strictly prohibited and that swabbing may occur at an AHSA affiliated event, however no swabbing procedure was specified. Any member whose horse returned a positive swab could then, under the 2017 Rule Book, be disciplined in accordance with Article 16, AHSA Articles of Association. This is still the case as there have been NO amendments to the Articles. Amendments to the Articles of Association require a special resolution, and a 75% majority vote in favour to be implemented. Members are legally required to be notified of any such changes.

The Policy forms part of the AHSA Rule Book and provides guidelines that are to be followed by AHSA affiliates, show committees and all responsible persons at each AHSA National-level event and any other AHSA-sanctioned event where drug testing is to be undertaken. Adherence to these guidelines ensures that clean sport and animal welfare are upheld and protected.

AHSA Drug Testing Control System | Download PDF

Prior to the existence of the Policy, no set procedure for swabbing was in place for AHSA National-level and affiliated events, which the AHSA felt to be a serious disadvantage to the membership and the Society. Historically, the swabbing procedure followed by affiliates was inconsistent and often improperly administered. In response, the AHSA deemed it necessary to provide the membership with a swabbing framework that was on par with other leading international equine authorities, such as the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), the highest level of equine governance globally after whom, the current AHSA Drug Testing Policy & Control System is modeled.

Similarly, there has been no change to the power or jurisdiction of the AHSA Board of Directors to discipline members in accordance with the Articles. The policy stipulates that any positive swabs are to be referred to the AHSA Board of Directors for disciplinary action pursuant to Article 16 of the Articles of Association. Article 16 was last amended and has been in force since 2012. The Board has the power to expel, suspend, fine and/or reprimand a member who has failed to comply with the Rule Book and/or Show Competition Rules.

The process for any disciplinary action is summarized as follows:

  • The Board notifies the Member of the alleged breach of the Rule Book and/or Show Competition Rules in writing.
  • The Board then affords the Member an opportunity to be heard on the matter by attendance at the next Board Meeting and/or submission of a written statement and supporting evidence.
  • The Member is advised they can be legally represented and also of the potential disciplinary action that the Board may take, being to suspend, expel, fine and/or reprimand the Member.
  • The Board also advises the member of the consequences of any such disciplinary action, such as being precluded from registering horses in the Society.
  • The Board then carefully considers the response from the Member at the next Board Meeting, taking into account all evidence provided, the Rule Book and Articles, and makes a determination.
  • The AHSA may elect to not publish the specifics of the breach or the material provided by the Member subject to the disciplinary action as to protect that Member's privacy.
  • The disciplinary action rendered is, however, published to provide transparency to the AHSA membership body.

The AHSA is legally required to adhere to the Articles of Association and the Board of Directors will continue to strictly comply with Article 16 in all disciplinary matters put before the Board.

We trust this clarifies the matter for our Members and Affiliates.

Any enquiries with respect to this process should be directed, in writing, to the Secretary, Helen Dohan: secretary@ahsa.asn.au.

AHSA Management