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Gavin Faulkner (Rider) – Banned Substance Curragh, 22nd August 2015


The Referrals Committee, Sean Barry (in the Chair), Laurence McFerran and Mrs J.O. Onions met in the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on Wednesday, 2nd March 2016 to consider a report from IMIM Hospitaldelmar in Barcelona, Spain regarding the fact that a sample of urine taken from Gavin Faulkner, rider, during in-competition testing on 22nd August 2015 at the Curragh Racecourse, Co Kildare, was found to contain benzoylecgonine (metabolite of cocaine). Under the Rules of Racing and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules, cocaine is a banned substance because it acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system with addictive and hallucinogenic properties and is prohibited in-competition pursuant to the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List International Standard 2015 as adopted by the Turf Club. Gavin Faulkner requested that the ‘B’ sample also be analysed. The analysis of the ‘B’ sample was carried out on 15th October 2015 and it confirmed the results of the ‘A’ sample.

Evidence was heard from Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club and Dr Adrian McGoldrick, Turf Club Senior Medical Officer. The Committee also noted the contents of an email received from Gavin Faulkner the previous afternoon where he stated that he was unable to attend today’s referral hearing due to personal circumstances and asking that he be emailed with any correspondence following the hearing.

In his evidence Denis Egan outlined to the Committee the efforts that had been made to schedule the hearing on a date which suited Mr Faulkner. He said the hearing date had originally been deferred to 4th January 2016, as Mr Faulkner had indicated that he would be out of the country until 23rd November and then 23rd December 2015. He said the paperwork had been issued to Mr Faulkner for the hearing on 4th January 2016 to both the Irish address he indicated for correspondence and also by email. Mr Faulkner subsequently contacted the Turf Club on 30th December 2015 to say that he would now be out of the country until 1st February 2016 and asked that the hearing on 4th January 2016 be adjourned until he came home. Mr Egan stated that the Committee granted an adjournment and the hearing was rescheduled for 16th February 2016. Mr Faulkner then indicated he would not be available until early March, with the result that the hearing was rescheduled for today. Paperwork was issued to Mr Faulkner on 17th February 2016 and there was further correspondence between Mr Faulkner and the Turf Club with regard to new contact details for Mr Faulkner. Mr Egan concluded by saying that an email was received from Mr Faulkner late yesterday afternoon to say that he would be unable to attend the referral hearing today.

Mr Egan also informed the Committee that Mr Faulkner had told him on 5th February 2016 that he would not be riding horses again.

In his evidence Dr Adrian McGoldrick said that cocaine is a stimulant which suppresses appetite and releases adrenalin. He said that an overdose of cocaine can lead to a brain hemorrhage or a heart attack. It is hallucinogenic and highly addictive. It can lead to an artificial sense of euphoria and can affect riding ability. Dr McGoldrick also outlined a number of unsuccessful efforts he made to contact Gavin Faulkner. As a result he said he had no idea why Mr Faulkner had tested positive for the substance.

Having considered the evidence the Referrals Committee found that Gavin Faulkner was in breach of Rule 277. They expressed disappointment that he was not present at the hearing today to explain the background to the positive test. They noted that every effort had been made to set a hearing on a date which suited Mr Faulkner and noted that he was aware that the hearing would take place today. They imposed a suspension of 2 years on him for the rule breach (commencing on 16th March 2016) and ordered that he contribute €650 to the Turf Club’s costs (inclusive of the cost of analysing the B sample).

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

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