'This is unacceptable for racing' - Three Irish jockeys banned after testing positive for cocaine
Three Irish jockeys have received bans after testing positive for cocaine use prior to a race meeting in Galway in October.
Ger Fox along with amateur riders Danny Benson and Roger Quinlan were initially handed two-year suspensions of their licences after routine pre-race tests at an October bank holiday race meeting in Galway showed they had used the banned stimulant.
Fox, who won the 2016 Irish Grand National in Fairyhouse on board the Mouse Morris-trained Rogue Angel, was told the the Turf Club referrals committee that 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".
Cromwell told the Press Association: "I don't condone what he has done, but everyone is entitled to a second chance.
"He's a good worker and a great asset to the yard.
"Hopefully he'll learn from this."
Danny Benson's ban will be reviewed after six months as long as he engages with a drug rehabilitation programme while 21 months of Roger Quinlan's punishment is suspended as long as he does not re-offend.
The referrals committee said it took into account "a number of mitigating factors" when it came to the penalties imposed on Fox, Benson and Quinlan.
The referrals committee remarked: "We can't have another night like tonight where we had to deal with the referral of three riders, out of the eight riders that were randomly tested, who tested positive for banned substances on the same day."
"This represents in the region of 10% of the number of jockeys who rode at the meeting in question. This is unacceptable for racing.
"To date we have tried to impose punishments with an encouragement to undertake rehabilitation. This has worked in individual cases but it is clear that the deterrent effect of the penalties imposed to date is not enough.
"We are asking Denis Egan, in his capacity as Chief Executive of the Turf Club to write to all the representative bodies to say that in future the starting point for penalties for similar offences will be a four-year ban plus whatever follows.
"There will be no coming back in six months except in very exceptional circumstances. What is currently happening cannot continue."