Racing: Fifth man arrested in doping probe

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The Independent Online
The police have arrested a fifth person in connection with their investigation into doping and race-fixing.

Meanwhile, Leighton Aspell, one of the three jockeys questioned and released on bail by police earlier in the week, has spoken out against the Jockey Club suspension which prevents him from riding. Richard Edmondson and Jason Bennetto report.

A fifth man was yesterday arrested in connection with the doping and race-fixing allegations as police began to distance themselves from the suggestion that jockeys may have drugged horses they were going to ride.

Officers apprehended a man who is understood to be neither a jockey nor anyone licensed by the Jockey Club. "A man has been arrested in connection with the ongoing investigation into horse doping at two racecourses during March 1997 and certain incidents of race-fixing," a statement from Scotland Yard said. The man was not charged and was released on bail to return to a Central London police station on 29 April.

The police are keen to stress they are making a distinction between the doping and race-fixing elements of the inquiry. It is understood that they are investigating allegations that jockeys deliberately "pulled" horses in a number of races to manufacture results. The second area of investigation is into the doping of horses and profiting from bets on others in the same race. A police source said: "The investigation is looking at two issues - they are two separate types of crime."

Meanwhile, Leighton Aspell has joined Jamie Osborne and Dean Gallagher, the other jockeys questioned by police on Tuesday, in releasing a statement denying involvement in the alleged offences and condemning the Jockey Club's decision preventing them riding.

"I was stunned when I was arrested," Aspell said. "And even more so when the Licensing Committee saw fit to suspend my licence. It seems very unfair because nobody is willing to tell me or my solicitors anything about the allegations against me. I have no reason to worry about the outcome of the police enquiries because I am innocent. However that does not help me in the meantime because I have been stopped from earning a living."

Aspell, Osborne and Gallagher can already count on the support of their main employers and were backed by another high-profile figure yesterday in Richard Dunwoody, joint-president of the Jockeys' Association. "I speak on behalf of all the jockeys in the weighing-room," Dunwoody said. "We would like to give our full support to the three lads. We would like to stress that we have no objection in the very slightest to riding against them."