Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Mr. Cian Cullinan (Rider) – Banned Substance –Listowel, 10th September 2019

The Referrals Committee, Justice Tony Hunt (in the Chair), Mr. Philip Caffrey and Mr. Anthony Byrne convened at the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB), The Curragh, Co. Kildare on Friday, 29th November 2019 to consider a report from Laboratori Antidopatge de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, that samples of urine taken from Cian Cullinan (Rider) during in-competition testing at Listowel Racecourse, Co. Kerry on 10th September 2019 were found to contain benzoylecgonine (metabolite of cocaine).

Under the Rules of Racing and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules, benzoylecgonine is a banned substance because it acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system with addictive and hallucinogenic properties. It is prohibited in-competition pursuant to the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List International Standard as adopted by the IHRB.

Mr. Cullinan did not request the ‘B’ Sample to be analysed.

Evidence was heard from Dr Jennifer Pugh, Senior IHRB Medical Officer. The Committee also noted a reference from Mr. Peter Croke  (Trainer) and a reference from another professional that Mr Cullinan had been engaging with as well as medical reports received from Dr. Pugh and Dr. Adrian McGoldrick, IHRB Medical Officer.  

In her evidence, Dr. Pugh outlined the effects of taking cocaine and detailed her interactions with Mr. Cullinan which she described as very positive. She noted that he has taken appropriate steps to address the issue that had arisen. Dr. Pugh expressed a view that what had occurred was not indicative of habitual use.

Andrew Coonan, on behalf of Mr. Cullinan accepted that his client was in breach of the rule and outlined details of his client's personal circumstances and his rehabilitation programme.

Having considered the evidence, the Referrals Committee accepted the guilty plea and confirmed the breach of Rule 277(i).

In arriving at penalty, the Referrals Committee accepted that based on Dr. Pugh’s evidence and other reports submitted it appeared that what had occurred was a once off.

They imposed a penalty of a four year suspension of Mr. Cullinan’s licence to apply with effect from the date of his most recent ride, 3rd October 2019. In view of the exceptional circumstances and the mitigating factors, they agreed that they would review the matter again within one year should Mr. Cullinan wish to reapply to the Committee for a review of the suspension. They agreed that at any future hearing they would consider the issue of a partial suspension of the penalty to apply with effect from 3rd October 2020 subject to evidence of Mr. Cullinan’s positive engagement with medical and associated matters between now and then.

The case was presented by Cliodhna Guy, Solicitor, Head of Licensing, Legal and Compliance. Mr. Cullinan was represented by Andrew Coonan, Solicitor, Coonan Cawley, Naas, Co. Kildare.


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