Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Apprentice Jockey Minor - Banned Substance Referral

Apprentice Jockey Minor – Banned Substance
Curragh – 25th March 2012
The Referrals Committee, Judge Tony Hunt (in the Chair), John Moloney and Sean Barry met at the Turf Club on 21st May 2012 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 March 2012 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 had accepted the findings of the ‘A’ Sample and did not request the ‘B’ Sample to be tested.

Evidence was heard from Dr. Adrian McGoldrick, Turf Club Chief Medical Officer and Apprentice Jockey Minor.  The Referrals Committee also considered a letter from the employer 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.

In his evidence Apprentice Jockey Minor told the Committee that he was out for a night and went for drinks in a local pub with some friends.  While waiting for a taxi, he asked one of his friends for a cigarette as he had none of his own.  He was passed a rolled cigarette which he started to smoke.  However after about five pulls, he started to feel sick and immediately threw the cigarette away.  When he got home he went to bed and felt fine the next morning and thought nothing more about what had occurred until he was notified of the positive test result.  He told the Committee that he couldn’t understand how he had tested positive as he had never taken drugs in his life.  He said that the only thing he could think of was the rolled cigarette he smoked.  He confronted the person who gave him the cigarette but he was evasive when he was asked if the cigarette was contaminated.  As a result he concluded that the cigarette must have been contaminated and accepted the result of the ‘A’ sample.

Apprentice Jockey Minor’s employer said that his employee was an excellent employee who is a hard worker and has never missed a days work.  He said he had a lot of faith in him and that he had high hopes for him in the future.

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, the Committee found that he was in breach of Rule 277 and guilty of a doping offence. 

In relation to penalty, the Committee accepted that Apprentice Jockey Minor had ingested the substance unknowingly.  In arriving at this conclusion, the Committee gave any benefit of doubt to Apprentice Jockey Minor regarding the evidence presented.  However, they stated that they may not be as lenient if the claims were made by someone of full adult age.  They also highlighted the risks associated with any jockey accepting a rolled cigarette especially when they do not know what it contains.  Having taken into account all the circumstances of the case, and the fact that the jockey concerned had no previous convictions, the Committee imposed a fine of €500 and ordered that Apprentice Jockey Minor pay a contribution of €250 towards the Turf Club’s costs.

The case was presented by Conal Boyce, Wilkinson & Price Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.  Apprentice Jockey Minor was represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley Solicitors,  Naas, Co. Kildare.


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