Group 1-winning trainer Gerard Butler was facing an anxious Christmas and New Year after appealing his five-year ban by the BHA for actions they said amounted to “an appalling breach of his duty to look after the interests of the horses in his care”.
The Newmarket-based 47-year-old was found to have self-administered not only Sungate – a product known to have been used by other Newmarket trainers, who were given an amnesty by the BHA – but also Rexogin, a much stronger substance and which was manufactured for use in humans.
Butler expressed regret immediately after the verdict, in particular the consequences of his actions for his family, but chose to appeal against the findings of the disciplinary panel and the severity of the penalty.
The report and comments from the BHA were damming. Nine Butler horses produced positive samples, four cases being Rexogin, administered by Butler himself, and the other five Sungate, given on veterinary advice and by a veterinary surgeon. Both products contain the anabolic steroid stanozolol.
Butler said: “While this has been a devastating and humiliating experience, I’m above all aware of its impact on others: not just my family, staff and owners but the sport I’ve always loved. I have no intention of hiding from my responsibility for an error of judgement that has undone many years of honest endeavour.
“I’ve 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.”