Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Cathal A. Landers Referral Hearing

Cathal A. Landers – Banned Substance
Leopardstown – 27th December 2011
The Referrals Committee, Judge Tony Hunt (in the Chair), John Moloney and Sean Barry met at the Turf Club on 3rd April 2012 to consider a report from IMIM Hospitaldelmar in Barcelona, Spain that a sample of urine taken from Cathal A. Landers (rider), during in-competition testing on 27th December 2011 at Leopardstown Racecourse, Co. Dublin, 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.  Mr. Landers, 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, Chief Turf Club Medical Officer, Ken Hartnett, Volunteer Project Worker (ARAS Newbridge), Cathal A. Landers and James A. Nash, trainer (employer of Cathal A. Landers).

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.

Ken Hartnett told the Committee that he has been working with Cathal Landers since the positive test result and said that Cathal was making very good progress.

James Nash said that he took Cathal Landers on as an employee two years ago.  He described him as a particularly good employee with a very good attendance record.

Having considered all the evidence and noting that Cathal A. Landers had admitted the offence at an early stage and did  not request that the “B” sample be analysed, they found that he was in breach of Rule 277 and guilty of a doping offence.  In arriving at their decision the Committee said that it had to balance the seriousness of the offence with the genuine efforts that Cathal Landers was making to address the issues which arose.  They imposed a fine of €500 and suspended the rider for three calendar months commencing on 17th April 2012.

The case was presented by Conal Boyce, Wilkinson & Price Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.  Cathal A. Landers was represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.


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