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Mr. Paul Lake (Rider) – Banned Substance Fairyhouse 9th November 2021

The Referrals Committee, Mr. Justice Tony Hunt (in the chair), Mr. Nicholas Wachman and Mr. Laurence McFerran convened at The Curragh Racecourse on Monday, 11th April 2022 to consider a report from Laboratori Antidopatge de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain, that a urine sample taken from Mr. Paul Lake (Rider) during in-competition testing at Fairyhouse on 9th November 2021 was 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. Lake did not request the ‘B’ sample to be analysed.

Evidence was heard from Mr. Lake and Dr. Jennifer Pugh (IHRB Senior Medical Officer).

In his evidence, Mr. Lake accepted the finding of the laboratory and did not contest the result or request the analysis of the B sample. He explained that the positive result came about as a result of once-off recreational use following a social gathering and he voluntarily stood himself down following notification of the result.

In her evidence, Dr. Pugh stated that Mr. Lake was not a rider that she had many dealings with prior to the positive sample and she had no previous dealings with him surrounding any drug use. She confirmed that Mr. Lake engaged fully with her following the result and with Mr. Pat Brennan, Counsellor.

Having considered the evidence, the Referrals Committee accepted the guilty plea and confirmed the breach of Rule 277(i). The decision read out by Mr. Justice Tony Hunt on behalf of the panel is set out as follows:

“We have to penalise and hopefully deter findings of this kind which are inconsistent with the issuing of a licence to engage in an organised sporting activity, but on the other hand we have to take into account the circumstances of the individual case. The standard penalty for these types of cases is a suspension of four years and we intend to impose that and backdate to the last day Mr. Lake rode which was 9th November 2021. We take Mr. Lake’s personal circumstances and his approach to the offence into account. It is the position of this case that and with many others, that Mr. Brennan features in a lot of them because he is a great help, be it as a one-off or in more depth than that and Dr. Pugh is involved in every case. Their evidence is very important to us because they live with the case and we only deal with it over the time it takes at a hearing like this. The insight we have of this case is the acceptance that it was a one-off, which we by extension accept that it was a one-off in a social situation and a mistake was made. We were also impressed by the way that Mr. Lake has engaged with Dr. Pugh and Mr. Brennan since and one can take those as mitigating factors as well as subsequent negative testing. We are prepared, by way of mitigation, to leaving open the possibility of a suspension of the last three years of the penalty imposed and Mr. Lake can reapply to the committee after one year to have the last three years of the penalty suspended and that will be done if he has continued to engage positively with Dr. Pugh and Mr. Brennan and complied with all requirements made of him.

The case was presented by Ms. Cliodhna Guy, IHRB Head of Licensing, Legal and Compliance.

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