Trainer Mark Johnston introduces random drug testing of staff at his Middleham stables

MARK JOHNSTON has introduced random drug testing of all staff at his record-breaking Middleham stables.

Mark Johnston is Britain's most successful trainer.

Britain’s most successful trainer makes the disclosure in the latest edition of his yard’s Kingsley Klarion magazine.

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It comes after champion trainer John Gosden was fined £500 by the BHA, and his filly Franconia, disqualified, for testing positive for ketamine at Newbury in June 2020.

Mark Johnston on his Middleham gallops in 2018.

An inquiry has now established that the positive test was probably caused by cross-contamination with the filly’s groom who came forward and admitted his use of the drug.

Gosden told the BHA that he had stood by the staff member and Johnston uses his column to explain how elaborate CCTV coverage and other extensive tests failed to establish the cause of his horse Willpower testing positive for mepivicane (a local anaesthetic used for nerve blocks) in 2013.

Johnston describes the additional biosecurity measures that he has introduced because he was “acutely aware of the risk of cross-contamination from humans using non-prescription or illegal drugs, and of the incalculable financial and reputational damage that a positive test in a big race could do for our business”.

Mark Johnston on his Middleham gallops in 2018.

He says he was disappointed when plans by the police and Racing Welfare to introduce random drug-testing in the Middleham area did not come to pass in 2017.

“That proposal soon became bogged down in comparisons with schemes in other industries where the testing is invariably done on health and safety grounds,” he adds.

“I became increasingly frustrated by the negative attitude and lack of appreciation of this risk of cross-contamination and eventually decided we must go it alone. We introduced random drug testing earlier this year. Another ‘first’ for Johnston Racing. How long before the rest of the industry wakes up and follows suit?”

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