Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Apprentice Jockey (minor) Banned Substance Referral

Apprentice Jockey (Minor) – Banned Substance
Curragh, 25th June 2010

The Referrals Committee, Mrs. J.O. Onions (in the Chair), Philip Caffrey and Sean Barry met at the Turf Club on 13th August 2010 to consider a report from IMIM Hospitaldelmar in Barcelona, Spain that a sample of urine taken from apprentice jockey (minor), during in-competition testing on 25th June 2010 at the Curragh Racecourse, Co. Kildare was found to contain a metabolite of Cannabis.  Cannabis is a banned substance under the Rules of Racing because it acts as a psychotropic agent on the central nervous system and is prohibited in-competition pursuant to the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List International Standard as adopted by the Turf Club.  Apprentice jockey (minor), through his solicitors, Coonan Cawley, accepted the findings of the ‘A’ Sample and did not request the ‘B’ Sample to be tested.

Evidence was heard from Dr. Adrian McGoldrick, Senior Turf Club Medical Officer, the apprentice jockey (minor) in question and the mother and uncle of apprentice jockey (minor).  The Committee also considered a letter from the master of apprentice jockey (minor).

In his evidence Dr. McGoldrick said that cannabis contains a least 400 different chemicals but its main mind altering ingredient is THC – (Delta-9-Terahyrdocannabinol) and the amount of THC in Marijuana determines the drugs strength.  It is a mild hallucinogen giving a feeling of wellbeing and relaxation, giddiness and euphoria.  It may increase heart rate, impair co-ordination and balance, delay reaction time and diminish short term memory.

It may also distort perception, making it dangerous to operate machinery, drive a car, ride a bicycle or more importantly a horse.  Stronger doses prompt more intense and often disturbing reactions including paranoia and hallucinations.

It is quick acting.  When smoked, its first effects are usually felt within seconds, peaks within minutes and declines sharply after about 45 minutes with a ninety minute tail off.  In heavy users cognitive function may be affected for up to 24 hours after its use.  When smoked, the body retains 10-25% of the THC that it contains.  30-40% of this retained THC is stored in the individual’s body fat and can be detected on average up to 28 days after use.  It is a “gateway drug” which makes subsequent use of more potent and disabling substances more likely.

Apprentice jockey (minor) accepted that Rules were broken and expressed great remorse for what had happened.

Having considered all the evidence and noting that apprentice jockey (minor) had admitted the offence at an early stage and did  not request that the “B” sample be analysed, they found that apprentice jockey (minor) was in breach of Rule 277 and guilty of a doping offence.  They imposed a fine of €500 and suspended apprentice jockey (minor) from riding for three months from 27th August to 26th November 2010.


The case was presented by Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club.  Apprentice jockey (minor) was represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.


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