Drugs warning to jockeys

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The Independent Online


The Jockey Club has launched a programme for jockeys on drug awareness. (This does not mean tips on the best gear to buy or cultivation techniques).

Portman Square's medical adviser, Dr Michael Turner, has supervised an initiative which includes discussion on weight control, nutrition and dehydration. But the first topic dealt with is drugs, and a booklet produced by the charity Lifeline has been sent to all apprentice and conditional jockeys in an effort to keep them off the first strand of the pharmeceutical web.

"We have distributed this excellent booklet to make sure that all young jockeys fully understand the risks involved," Dr Turner said yesterday. "There is not the slightest evidence that jockeys are taking drugs on a larger scale than others in this age group. In fact, there are good indications that the problem is considerably smaller in racing than in society at large."

One of the smaller number was punished yesterday, however, when Darren Salter, a claimer attached to the West Country stable of Rod Millman, was banned for 21 days. Salter, 23, who has won 20 races since taking out a riding licence in 1989, was the second jockey to fail a drugs test after traces of cannabis were found in a urine sample he gave at Chepstow in November. The first transgressor was Sean McCarthy, an apprentice who delivered a sample bearing cannabis and amphetamines in October.

"I deeply regret having had to appear before the disciplinary committee," Salter said. "The positive test for cannabis was as a result of my unknowingly consuming the drug in cake form at a party."

In other cases at Portman Square there were suggestions that Johnnie Cochran and the boys must be in town as the hanging judges unusually upheld two pleas from trainers.

Len Lungo, the Dumfriesshire trainer, and jockey Tim Reed went the long route, taking four and a half hours to convince inquisitors that Livio was not being schooled in public when eighth at Haydock in December. The gelding subsequently won when favourite at Catterick, a victory which twitched officialdom's antennae.

"Considering the difference in quality of the Haydock and Catterick races, and considering that it was admitted in the inquiry that Livio had been dropped 4lb in error between the two races, the Catterick win came as no surprise," Lungo said. "The betting-intelligence officer said there was no extraordinary betting. I didn't back him myself, and only one of the two owners had a small bet."

One trainer who did back his horse was Brian Gubby, who saw his stake disappearing westwards after Tribal Peace was demoted in favour of Masnun at Lingfield last month. The adjudication of the Surrey officials was overturned yesterday though, which left Gubby with mixed feelings. "I don't blame the local stewards as it was a difficult decision," he said. "It's a pity though as I still won't get my winnings from the pounds 300 bet I had on Tribal Peace at Lingfield at 9-2."