British thoroughbred trainer Gerard Butler, banned for five years this week over the injection of anabolic steroids into the joints of racehorses, says he is paying a heavy price for what he described as a big mistake.
Butler received the ban from the British Horseracing Authority arising from its investigation into the so-called Sungate affair.
Five of Butler’s horses tested positive for the anabolic steroid, stanozolol, which it transpired resulted from the use of a licensed Italian-made joint medication called Sungate, which a local vet had prescribed and administered.
However, four other horses in his stables also tested positive for the banned steroid. It emerged during the disciplinary hearing that Butler had injected four horses himself with a human preparation called Rexogin, containing the same anabolic steroid as Sungate but at 10 times the strength.
The discplinary panel described Butler’s actions as an appalling breach of his duty to look after the interests of the horses in his care.
In a statement released through his solicitor, Richard Brooks, of Withy King, Butler said he had no intention of hiding from his responsibility for an error of judgment that had undone many years of honest endeavour.
“While this has been a devastating and humiliating experience for me, I am above all aware of its impact on others: not just my family, staff and owners but also the sport I have always loved.
“I only wish to offer one or two observations, then, with no intention of diluting the contrition I feel. My sense that I had betrayed the standards I have always sought to maintain can be judged from the fact that I myself brought a number of breaches to the attention of the British Horseracing Authority.
“I hope it has also become evident how widespread were the misunderstandings, among the training and veterinary communities in Newmarket, over the use of Sungate.
“With that in mind, I must emphasise that no harm resulted to any of the horses involved – and, above all, that I would never have knowingly risked any such harm. It was wrong for me to cut corners but I did so principally through naivety.
“I am grateful for the many messages I have received that recognise this, and also how distressed I am to have let myself and others down. I have made a big mistake, and am paying a big price. The consequences for my wife and three sons will be a daily reproach, harder to bear than any judgements passed by others.
“All I can do is try to pick up the pieces. I will do so with a painfully renewed sense that the principles I neglected, in one disastrous lapse, will be those that serve me best in trying to rebuild my life.”