London – The British Touring Car series is to introduce mandatory pre-race alcohol breath-tests for all drivers and officials in a first for British motorsport.

“Any drivers or officials who fail the zero tolerance test will not be allowed to participate until such time as they pass the test,” the BTCC said in a statement on Wednesday.

It added that, while it was sure drivers and officials would not risk their safety and that of others by drinking at a race weekend, tests would be carried out on every day at every event to ensure there was no residual alcohol in the system.

“Whilst random breath-testing does happen on occasion at various motor sport events, the BTCC is the first championship to mandate the zero-tolerance limit and back this up with compulsory testing each day at each event,” said series director Alan Gow.

“This was a bit of a personal crusade for me, as I have long thought that the sport does not carry out enough alcohol testing.”

Gow said all drivers and officials backed the stance.

Formula One, whose victorious drivers spray champagne on the podium and several of whose teams are backed by beer and spirits brands, is a signatory to WADA’s World Anti-Doping Code and conducts random dope tests.

Britain’s James Hunt, the late 1976 F1 world champion, was famed for his indulgent party lifestyle fuelled by sex, cigarettes and alcohol but those wild days are long gone in the sport.

The US-based NASCAR series, which has an official beer supplier, has a substance abuse policy that covers alcohol with random blood, urine, saliva and breath tests conducted. – Reuters