When the BHA announced that they were conducting their own internal integrity review, I have to admit to being somewhat sceptical – after all, regulators don’t have a fantastic reputation for self-regulation. So I am pleased that this review seems to have been far reaching and rigorous in its scope, and that having the input of an experienced challenge panel has provided a suitable degree of independence.
Due to having had my own, frankly horrendous experiences of the BHA integrity department back in 2011/12, I was happy to be asked to provide my input into this review, and am glad that many of my concerns appear to have been addressed. Whilst nothing will ever make up for the physical and emotional distress that this investigation caused, along with the huge amount of money I spent defending myself against the accusation, which ultimately proved to be unfounded, I am grateful to the BHA for providing me with a frank apology, which I am fully aware is no easy thing for a regulator to do, and I am happy to accept this apology.
I also take plenty of heart that following this review, if it’s stated aims are achieved, no other trainer should end up being treated the way I was treated during the course of my investigation. The catastrophic errors in procedure, and the way in which the BHA then delayed and obfuscated over a 20 month period, was a blueprint in how not to conduct a disciplinary investigation, and I have still never been given a satisfactory answer as to why New Den was never tested whilst in their custody. I would like to think that it would be impossible for these errors to be repeated following implementation of the recommendations of this review.
It is essential for any sport that its integrity is protected by a robust regulator, but it must also be fair, open and honest in the way in which it goes about this process. When Steve Harman and Nick Rust took the helm at the BHA they promised just such an open and honest approach, and I am pleased to say that this review appears to provide further evidence that they intend to stand by those promises.