Butler handed five-year ban for 'appalling' doping breach
GERARD Butler's training career appears effectively over after the Kildare native had his licence removed for five years after admitting giving anabolic steroids to his horses.
Butler, who became the second Newmarket-based trainer this year to be given a long ban for doping, had already admitted breaking the law by personally giving four horses injections which should only be administered by qualified vets.
He previously insisted he had given his horses in good faith a product called Sungate, which he had not realised contained the substance stanazolol.
However, it emerged yesterday that during Butler's disciplinary hearing before the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) last month he admitted he had also illegally administered Rexogin, a drug containing 10 times more stanazolol than Sungate, and primarily designed for use in humans.
A BHA statement delivered a withering condemnation of Butler's conduct, stating: "The most serious charges related to Gerard Butler's gross failure to look after the best interests of four horses in his care, which amounted to conduct that was seriously prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of the sport.
"The disciplinary panel summarised that the actions of Butler represented 'an appalling breach of his duty to look after the interests of the horses in his care'."
Butler eventually admitted to the disciplinary panel all seven charges levelled against him, including the gross failure to look after the interests of four horses in particular.
To Zain Eagle, Zain Spirit, Azrag and Prince Alzain, he administered intra-articular injections, a method restricted in law to qualified veterinarians, of Rexogin.
After Butler had finally admitted illegally administering this drug on 16 different occasions, the panel said: "This was truly appalling behaviour from a licensed trainer."
Butler said yesterday: "I watched my mother sign a card and put it on my brother's coffin. To get through this I will need a fraction of the strength she needed to do that."
Butler (47) has spent his whole working life in racing, initially learning to become a trainer from some of the best in the world including D Wayne Lukas, Colin Hayes and John Dunlop and, from 1998, training in his own right.
But now he finds himself banned from all BHA-licensed properties and racecourses. That ban is reciprocated around the world. He has until tomorrow to disperse his string. The scale of the BHA's feelings about the Butler case is best measured when set against the eight-year ban meted out to Godolphin's Mahmood Al Zarooni, the now notorious doper, back in April.
The same week Butler went public with a mea culpa about the fact that he was also under investigation although, it turns out, he was economical with the truth, omitting any mention of Rexogin.
He claimed that he had given Sungate, a joint treatment about which there seemed a certain amount of confusion as to its legality within the rules of racing as Rossdales, one Newmarket veterinary practice, was still recommending it.
But the panel eventually heard that Butler, who initially apportioned some of the blame to his vet and secretary, had ordered Rexogin online from UK Steroids Pharmacy, a popular site for body builders.
To conceal his use of the drug he bought it privately rather than from a yard account and got junior rather than senior members of staff to hold the horses ahead of the injections into fetlocks and knees. (© Daily Telegraph, London)