Gallagher's ban for drug use confirmed

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The Independent Online

France Galop, the body which runs French racing, yesterday rejected Dean Gallagher's appeal against a six-month riding ban for failing a series of drug tests. Gallagher tested positive for cocaine on three occasions between 29 March and 17 June, and the jockey has since said that he has started treatment for drug-related problems.

France Galop, the body which runs French racing, yesterday rejected Dean Gallagher's appeal against a six-month riding ban for failing a series of drug tests. Gallagher tested positive for cocaine on three occasions between 29 March and 17 June, and the jockey has since said that he has started treatment for drug-related problems.

Announcing the decision, which was taken following an appeal hearing at Deauville last week, Louis Romanet, director-general of France Galop, said: "The decision to ban Mr Gallagher taken by the France Galop stewards has been confirmed. There is a further appeal possible at a superior court in France Galop for anyone who is banned for more than a month. Mr Gallagher has 10 days to decide on a second appeal."

The suspension, which is recognised by racing authorities worldwide, runs until the end of the year, and is a new nadir in Gallagher's up-and-down career. He spent 14 months' on police bail after being arrested during an inquiry into alleged race-fixing, but was released without charge in March 1999.

However, Gallagher then began to carve out a successful career on the jumps circuit in France, and signed a contract to ride as first jockey to Paul Green, one of the sport's leading owners, as well as Jean-Paul Gallorini, the country's foremost jumps trainer. Last season, he finished with 51 winners, a personal best, only for the six-month ban to halt the upturn in his fortunes.

Gallagher was contesting the duration of the ban at last week's appeal, rather than the justice of the suspension itself. He is undergoing an intensive rehabilitation course, and will need to prove his fitness to the French authorities - and, presumably, those in Britain too - before his licence will be renewed.

"He will have to prove his fitness to us before he can ride in France again next year," Romanet said. "But we understand that Mr Gallagher is doing his best to get cured and we wish him well."

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