The Rolling Stones are no strangers to the controversy that surrounds substance abuse, but The Rock group are now at the centre of a row over plans to drug up to 300 horses during their forthcoming concert in Serbia.

Organisers of the event at Belgrade's racecourse say that the animals need to be sedated to stop them panicking during the July 14th gig, which will take place just metres away from where they are housed.

More than 100,000 people are expected to attend the concert at the Belgrade Hippodrome.

However, Serbian animal rights activists have slammed the plans, warning that holding the Stones gig in such close proximity to the horses is likely to harm them.

The country's largest animal protection group ORCA is now lobbying concert officials to move the venue of the gig and says that it will contact the Stones directly if necessary.

"I believe we'll succeed since such a reputable band will not allow such a stain on its record," ORCA chief Elvir Burazerovic told the Reuters news agency.

It is not the first time the Stones have encountered problems over plans to stage a gig in Serbia, where they have yet to perform.

The assassination of the country's former prime minister Zoran Djindjic in 2003 forced the band to scrap a planned show, while a 2006 gig was also ditched following the much-reported head injury sustained by guitarist Keith Richards while he was on holiday.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the legendary group's former bassist has moved on from the heady world of rock.

Bill Wyman, who quit the Stones in 1993, is instead hoping to strike gold with the launch of his own metal detector, reports.

19/04/2007 07:46:57