Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Damien Skehan - Banned Substance

The Referrals Committee John Moloney (in the Chair), John Powell and Sean Barry met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on 4th October 2012 to consider a report from IMIM Hospitaldelmar in Barcelona, Spain regarding the fact that a sample of urine taken from Damien Skehan (rider), during in-competition testing on 30th July 2012 at Galway Racecourse, was found to contain Furosemide.  Under the Rules of Racing and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules this is a banned substance because it is a diuretic which acts on the kidneys and inhibits re-absorption of water and has a diuretic effect.  Furosemide is prohibited in-competition pursuant to the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List International Standard, as adopted by the Turf Club.  Damien Skehan 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, Turf Club Senior Medical Officer and Damien Skehan.

In his evidence Dr. Adrian McGoldrick said that Furosemide is a loop diuretic.  It is called a loop diuretic as it works in the loop of henle in the kidney.  It is a potent diuretic and leads to rapid diuresis i.e. fluid loss.  It acts by inhibiting the re-absorption of sodium and chloride and increases loss of magnesium and calcium.

The onset of action after oral administration is within one hour and fluid loss continues for 6-8 hours.

In medical practice it is used for the treatment of fluid retention due to heart failure and to lower blood pressure.  It is also used in the treatment of cirrhosis of the liver and other conditions where rapid fluid loss is required e.g. cerebral oedema (brain swelling).

Side effects include dehydration, low blood pressure, loss of sodium and potassium leading to cramps and in more severe cases irregularity of the heart.

It is described as a masking agent for other chemicals in that by diluting the urine, other chemicals may not be detected.

In his evidence Damien Skehan told the Committee that he had been given tablets for an ailment by a family member.  At the time he didn’t realise that the tablets were a diuretic.  He said he now fully accepted that he shouldn’t have taken the tablets and that he was in breach of Rule 277(i).  He also outlined the procedures that he followed to manage his weight.  He said on the day in question at Galway he had to spend time in the sauna and run to make the required riding weight.
Having considered the evidence, the Committee found Damien Skehan in breach of Rule 277(i) and fined him €300.  They also ordered that he pay a contribution of €400 towards the Turf Club’s costs.  The Committee told Mr. Skehan that they regarded the rule breach as a serious offence and that he would incur a suspension if he breached the rule in future.  They also recommended that he gets advice on weight control and that he monitors his weight on a more regular basis.

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


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