Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Michael John O’Connor (Rider) – Banned Substance Punchestown, 14th November 2015

 

The Appeals Body (Division Two) Justice Tony Hunt (in the Chair), Philip Caffrey and Mrs T.K. Cooper met in the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on Tuesday, 17th May 2016 to consider the appeal of Michael John O’Connor (rider) against the severity of the penalty imposed by the Referrals Committee on 2nd March 2016.

At the Referrals Committee hearing Michael John O’Connor was found to be in breach of Rule 277, as a urine sample taken from him during in-competition testing on 14th November 2015 at Punchestown Racecourse, Co Kildare, was found to contain Bisoprolol. Under the Rules of Racing and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules, Bisoprolol is a banned substance because it is a Beta-blocker and is prohibited in-competition pursuant to the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List International Standard as adopted by the Turf Club.

As a result of the finding the Referrals Committee imposed a three month suspension on him and ordered that he make a contribution of €250 towards Turf Club costs. In arriving at the penalty the Referrals Committee had accepted the positive test arose from medication which had been prescribed for Mr O’Connor and not for any other reason.

The grounds of appeal lodged were that the penalty was too severe taking into account the circumstances of the case. In addition Mr O’Connor had not ridden since mid-December to the time of the original referral hearing as a result of the positive test.

Evidence was heard from Michael John O’Connor.

In his evidence Michael John O’Connor explained in detail the background to him being prescribed Bisoprolol for a medical condition. He explained why he felt the penalty was too severe and he asked the Appeals Body to reconsider the penalty in light of new evidence which he presented today.

Having considered the evidence the Appeals Body accepted the penalty originally imposed by the Referrals Committee was appropriate. They confirmed the penalty of a three month riding suspension (18th May to 17th August 2016) and the contribution towards Turf Club costs of €250. However, in view of the additional evidence submitted at today’s hearing regarding Mr O’Connor’s medical condition at the time, the Appeals Body suspended the penalty of three months for three months, provided no further doping offence is committed within that period. In the event that a further offence is committed within this period, they ordered this penalty be activated together with any other penalty which may be imposed for the new offence. The Panel also ordered that the appeal deposit be refunded.

The Appeals Body stressed the importance of all riders consulting with Dr McGoldrick, Senior Turf Club Medical Officer, to ensure that any medicine they may be prescribed is not on the prohibited list. They also stressed the importance of riders declaring to the sampling officer any substances they are taking.

The case was presented by Paul Murtagh, Turf Club Stipendiary Steward.


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