Sunday 21 July 2019

Five-year ban for jockey who tested positive for cocaine

Brendan Keane

A Wexford man has received the longest ban imposed on a jockey who tested positive for cocaine after he was landed with a five-year ban at a Referrals Committee hearing before Mr Justice Tony Hunt (in the Chair), Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds and Mr Philip McLernon which was convened at the offices of the IHRB (Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board), in the Curragh, Co Kildare on Thursday, January 10.

According to a report from the IRHB the committee was convened to consider a report from Laboratori Antidopatge De Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, that samples of urine taken from rider, C L Murphy, during in-competition testing at Cork Racecourse, Mallow, on December 18, were found to contain cocaine metabolites (benzoylecgonine and ecgonine methyl ester).

The report stated that as Mr Murphy neither accepted the results of the analysis of the 'A' portion of the sample nor requested that the 'B' portion be analysed within 14 days of receipt of the letter informing him of the 'A' portion result, under Rule 278(vi)(c) he was deemed to have accepted the results of the 'A' portion analysis.

Evidence was heard at the hearing from Dr Adrian McGoldrick, IHRB Medical Officer, and from Mr Murphy.

In his evidence Dr McGoldrick outlined the effects of taking cocaine and gave details of his conversations with Mr Murphy following his notification of the positive test.

He said Mr Murphy told him he didn't take cocaine as he was very busy doing multiple jobs. He also said that Mr Murphy had indicated to him on a number of occasions his belief as to the cause of the positive sample. As a result, he did not feel there was any need for him to interact with the support structures.

In his evidence Mr Murphy said he accepted there was cocaine in his samples but denied taking the drug. He said he was happy to liaise with the support services which he said would prove he was not a cocaine user. He attributed the positive test to inadvertent exposure to the drug as a result of personal contact.

Having considered the evidence, the Referrals Committee found that Mr Murphy was in breach of Rule 277(i).

In arriving at penalty, the Referrals Committee said that they did not find Mr Murphy's explanation to be plausible.

In mitigation they noted that Mr Murphy had been tested previously and that these test results were negative. Having taken account of the evidence adduced at the hearing they imposed a penalty of five years suspension of licence with effect from January 24, but stated that he could reapply for a licence on July 23, 2020, provided he complies with any requirement set out by Dr Jennifer Pugh, IHRB Senior Medical Officer.

The committee also said that if there were any further breaches of rules in relation to anti-doping until January 23, 2024, the suspended period of three-and-a-half years may be reactivated.

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