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W.J. O'Connor Referral

W.J. O’Connor – Banned Substance
Curragh, 27th May 2006

The Referrals Committee, Dr. Gordon A. Holmes (in the Chair), Mrs. T.K. Cooper and Mr. P.J.A. O’Connor met in The Stand House Hotel, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on 1st December 2006 to consider a report from the Drug Control Centre at King’s College, London that a sample of urine taken from W.J. O’Connor, jockey, during in-competition testing on 27th May 2006 at The Curragh, County Kildare was found to contain a metabolite of cocaine.  Cocaine is a Banned Substance under the Rules of Racing because it is a stimulant prohibited in-competition pursuant to the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List Standard as adopted by The Turf Club.  

Evidence was heard from Mr. Denis Egan, Chief Executive, Irish Turf Club.

The Committee also considered written evidence from the Drug Control Centre, which confirmed that the “A” sample tested on 12th June 2006 and the “B” sample tested on 26th October 2006 were found to contain a metabolite of cocaine, Prof. Vivian James who attended the analysis of the “B” sample at the request of the Turf Club and Dr. Brendan Buckley, Chairman, Irish Sports Council Anti Doping Committee.

Having considered all of the evidence and noting that on the day of the hearing, Mr. O’Connor admitted the offence they found that W.J. O’Connor was in breach of Rule 277 and guilty of a doping offence.

In arriving at their decision the Committee noted that W.J. O’Connor had purported to relinquish his jockey licence on 14th September 2006.  In the circumstances the Committee directed that the Licensing Committee should not consider any application for a licence renewal from W.J. O’Connor until 1st October 2007 at the earliest.  They also directed that such application or any subsequent applications must be accompanied by a medical report from a medical officer or officers appointed by the Turf Club certifying that W.J. O’Connor is medically fit to hold a licence.  Such medical reports should deal with the circumstances of this offence.  The Committee also noted that significant costs were incurred by the Turf Club in the preparation of the papers for the case and that such costs could have been avoided had W.J. O’Connor admitted the offence at an earlier stage.  In view of this they ordered that W.J. O’Connor pay a contribution of €10,000 towards the Turf Club’s costs.

In conclusion, the Chairman stated that it was the view of the Referrals Committee that in future if a rider fails to indicate his attitude to the case as soon as is practicable, the Turf Club’s full costs in the case should be awarded against the rider concerned if found guilty of the offence.

In considering what penalties were appropriate the Referrals Committee were extremely conscious of their duty to take all steps to ensure the safety of racing in accordance with the Governing Bodies continued emphasis on safety.

The case was presented by Mr. Gary Rice, Beauchamps Solicitors, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2.  W.J. O’Connor was represented by Mr. Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.

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