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Kevin Sexton (Rider) – Banned Substance Galway, 26th July 2016


The Referrals Committee, Justice Tony Hunt (in the Chair), Philip McLernon and N.P. Lambert met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on Monday 7th November 2016 to consider a report from IMIM Hospitaldelmar in Barcelona, Spain, that a sample of urine taken from Kevin Sexton, Rider, during in-competition testing at Galway Racecourse, Co. Galway on 26th July 2016 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 as adopted by the Turf Club.

Kevin Sexton requested that the ‘B’ sample also be analysed. The analysis of the ‘B’ sample was carried out on 27th September 2016 and it confirmed the results of the ‘A’ sample.

Evidence was heard from Dr Adrian McGoldrick, Senior Turf Club Medical Officer, Kevin Sexton and Peter Fahey, Trainer. The Committee also considered a letter of support for Mr Sexton from Gordon Elliott.

At the outset, Andrew Coonan stated that Kevin Sexton was not contesting the findings and that he accepted the results.

In his evidence Dr McGoldrick said that cocaine is a strong stimulant which is used as a recreational drug. He outlined the effects of cocaine use and noted that it takes between two and four days to clear the system. Dr McGoldrick referred to a number of tests carried out on Kevin Sexton prior to the test at Galway on 26th July 2016, all of which were negative. He also outlined a number of discussions he had with Mr Sexton prior to today’s hearing relating to the adverse finding. He said Mr Sexton now realises how serious the matter is and he is very grateful for the support he has been given from his employers. Dr McGoldrick noted that he had been guaranteed work by Gordon Elliott and Peter Fahey during any period of suspension. He also said that Kevin Sexton had volunteered for random testing during this time and he was satisfied of Mr Sexton’s intent to put this matter behind him.

In his evidence Kevin Sexton outlined his riding career to date and also referred to a number of trainers he had worked with. He said he was going through a bad patch in his career prior to the test at Galway as he was not working full time. He admitted taking cocaine on two occasions at a party which is something he now very much regrets.

Mr Sexton said he was embarrassed by what had occurred and since the test result was announced, he had written to a number of owners to explain how much he regretted what he had done and he said they were very supportive of him.

Mr Sexton said he is now working for Gordon Elliott and gave details of what this work involved. He said he had given up alcohol and was now living in a house in Gordon Elliott’s yard with two of Mr Elliott’s most senior staff. He said he was prepared to do whatever it took to get back riding.

In response to questions from Conal Boyce, solicitor, Mr Sexton said he did not realise the implications of what he was doing at the time and was not thinking straight.

In his evidence Peter Fahey gave a character reference for Kevin Sexton. Mr Fahey said that Mr Sexton was very obliging and what occurred was completely out of character. He said it was a good move for Kevin that he was now working full time for Gordon Elliott and noted that he had ridden winners for Mr Elliott and himself in the past few weeks.

Having considered the evidence the Referrals Committee found Kevin Sexton to be in breach of Rule 277(i). In arriving at penalty, they noted the normal suspension for a positive drugs test was two years, but in this case there were a number of mitigating factors which they needed to take into account, including the fact that Mr Sexton now understands the serious nature of his conduct and his acceptance of the findings at an early stage. They also noted that he was a young man with a clean record who potentially still has a long career ahead and the great support he is now receiving from his family, Gordon Elliott and Peter Fahey.

The Committee therefore imposed a two year suspension on Kevin Sexton, commencing on 21st November 2016, but suspended the last 18 months of the penalty, provided the rider does not commit any further doping offence in the two years to 21st November 2018. The Committee stated that if a further doping offence is committed within that period, the suspended portion of the 18 month penalty will be activated together with any other penalty for the second offence. The Committee ordered that Mr Sexton remain under the supervision of Dr McGoldrick for the next two years and that he agrees to submit to drug tests during that period and pay the costs of any such tests.

The case was presented by Conal Boyce, Solicitor, Naas, Co. Kildare. Kevin Sexton was represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley, Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.

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