A total ban on anabolic steroids has been announced by the Australian Racing Board.

Under current rules, steroids are only prohibited in horses on race day but the new ban will apply to horses both in and out of competition from the age of six months, with that period allowed in the interests of animal welfare.

"The ban on anabolic steroids goes far beyond any other racing jurisdiction outside of Europe and was decided by the ARB Board after lengthy consideration of veterinary and scientific advice and consultation with trainers' and owners' associations," ARB chief executive Peter McGauran told www.racingvictoria.au.

"The ARB has adopted a zero tolerance policy to the use of anabolic steroids in competition, training and spelling and will institute heavy penalties for breaches of the ban."

The new rule will be introduced on 1 November with the ban taking effect from 1 May next year to give any treated horses six months to be clear of the drugs.