It is the mandate of The National Horseracing Authority, through the application of its Rules and Disciplinary processes, to uphold and protect the integrity of the sport of Thoroughbred horseracing and to zealously safeguard the safety and welfare of both the human and equine participants in this sport.

As part of this function is the responsibility to screen and also be in a position to prosecute for many hundreds of prohibited, forbidden and banned substances in compliance to international racing and quality requirements, policies and guidance.

The National Horseracing Authority’s policy of operating its own Laboratory is in line with that of the majority of international racing jurisdictions. This enables the NHA to, as the regulatory body, to always have direct, strict and proper control over the integrity of the Laboratory and its operations to ensure that the required standards, capacities and capabilities are upheld at all times.

This Laboratory provides the NHA, in addition to routine prohibited substance screening, with a cost-effective facility to conduct the required research and the development, with the required degree of urgency and intensity, as required for new methods to detect new drugs which constantly emerge as a concern to the racing industry.

The Laboratory provides for the screening of both equine urine and blood specimens for prohibited substances.


The different substances are differently screened and prosecuted:

  • some at the best possible sensitivity (for forbidden substances which should never be found in a racehorse)
  • some are only acted upon when these exceed international prosecution screening limits (for therapeutic substances required to treat the racehorse) and some must be quantified during screening and accurately quantified for prosecution (for substances found naturally or as contamination or for which international threshold levels are in place)

This screening facilitates effective drug control of pre-race, post-race and out of competition specimens received from all over Southern Africa, throughout the year. The testing of rider samples is also conducted as to ensure that riders are not under the influence of substances which could impair their judgement and which could compromise the safety of both riders and horses.

During the process of screening some specimens and samples could indicate the presence of prohibited or banned substances. As to confirm such results the process of screening is repeated by means of a full re-analysis employing the same and also more specific methods. When the substance is again shown present and again at a level exceeding the decision level, further action is required.

Within the confirmation section of the Laboratory a third analysis is then conducted to confirm the identity of the substance. Such analysis is strictly to the international horseracing standard and a formal analysis report provides details of such compliance.

In addition to the positive findings which the Laboratory conducts on the Original specimens (A samples) of the NHA, the Laboratory also acts as an approved facility for the confirmatory reference analysis (on B samples) of drug positive specimens also from other countries. This Laboratory has done so for England, France, Hong Kong, Mauritius, Morocco and Singapore and since the year 2000 there have been more than 145 such confirmatory analyses for these countries.


Testing for Equine Sports and Disciplines

The control of drug use in international sport is undertaken by WADA (The World Anti-Doping Agency).  This is reflected in the World Anti-Doping Code 2015, Article 16 - Doping Control for Animals Competing in Sport: "In any sport that includes animals in competition the National Federation for that sport shall establish and implement anti-doping rules for the animals included in that sport". This specifies the requirement of drug screening in all animal sports.


This Laboratory has extensive experience and a large analysis platform for pre-competition, post-competition and out-of-competition racehorse screening is in place for the comprehensive screening of plasma and urine (equine and other animals) for drug substances.  This is offered to other animal sport clients at a favourable price with a relatively short analysis turnaround time. The option of prohibited substances confirmation as formal positive findings with a detailed report is also in place, similar to horseracing. An equine specimen screen is offered which is compliant to the requirements of the Federation Equestrian Internationale (FEI). The FEI is the world governing body for the equestrian sports such as Showjumping, Dressage, Eventing, Driving and Endurance.

  • Our Equine Sport clients include:
  • SA Equestrian Federation (SAEF)
  • The Saddlebred Society of SA
  • The Endurance Riding Association of SA (ERASA)
  • The Namibia Endurance Riding Association
  • SA Hackney Ponies
  • The Arab Show Horse Society of South Africa (AHSSA)
  • SA Boerperd Breeders


Horse urine and plasma specimens from horse pre-purchase examinations and soundness examinations are analysed for service providers of veterinary clinics including:

  • Idexx Laboratories
  • Pathcare Laboratories


Specimen integrity, security and traceability systems

While the effective screening of specimens is the most important aspect of sports testing, for successful prosecution this must be combined with a suitable system of specimen integrity, security and traceability. The integrity, security and traceability of specimens between the time of collection in the field and receipt for testing at the Laboratory must be considered.

We can provide the procedure of specimen security which is typically employed in horseracing worldwide and customise this for our clients.  This involves specimens to be sealed in plastic bottles with unique metal seals.  These bottles are transported to the testing facility with a double seal mechanism.  There is also the option of collecting two separate specimens from the horse at the time of specimen collection.  Only the one specimen (the A Sample) is analysed while the other (reference specimen, the B Sample) is kept in a secure, sealed state at our Laboratory.  This specimen can then be investigated at a later stage, possibly by another Laboratory, to confirm the test result of the initially analysed specimen.

The Laboratory can assist with the supply of such materials as “test kits”. The official procedures required for the required compliance and associated forms can additionally be designed and supplied.