Saturday 17 November 2018

Ruby Walsh calls for more testing and increased bans after three Irish jockeys are banned for cocaine use

Ruby Walsh
Ruby Walsh Newsdesk Newsdesk

Ruby Walsh has called on the Turf Club to increase their drug testing regime in the wake of three jockeys being banned this week after testing positive for cocaine.

Ger Fox, who won the 2016 Irish Grand National, along with amateur riders Roger Quinlan and Danny Benson received two-year bans after testing positive for a metabolite of cocaine ahead of a race meeting at Galway in October.

Fox was suspended for two years, but the committee said it would review the matter again in five-and-a-half months, providing he "submits to a random testing programme" and "continues to have the support of his employer, Gavin Cromwell".

Mr Quinlan had 21 months of his ban suspended as long as he "does not breach the same rule again during the period of suspension". Mr Benson's suspension will be assessed in six months if he "positively engages" in a programme of rehabilitation.

In total, eight jockeys were tested after a meeting at Galway in October, with Mr Fox, Mr Quinlan and Mr Benson returning positive urine samples.

The referrals committee said it took into account "a number of mitigating factors" when it came to the penalties imposed on them.

Writing in his column in today's Irish Examiner, Walsh agreed with the stance of the Turf Club referrals committee who have called for the starting penalty to increase to four years in the future.

"This week, three jockeys got their bans for failing tests for recreational drug use. I suppose drugs are an increasing part of society. It's disappointing, but I'd hope the Turf Club would increase the amount of testing they do, and I'd agree with the proposal of longer bans as a deterrent," he said.

"I don't know the background to any of these guys, and I don't know their circumstances, so, as a parent, I'm not going to judge. But I do think it's an issue which needs to be tackled head-on and I welcome any changes the Turf Club are proposing to try and deter guys from going down this road."

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