Racing: Jockeys seek dope tests for stewards

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RACECOURSE stewards may soon have to consider what liquid is accompanying the saumon fume and Chateaubriand following a proposal that racecourse staff should undergo drug and alcohol tests.

The Jockeys' Association, whose members will be subject to random examinations from March, have suggested that those running a meeting should be tested too.

'The reason why dope-testing is being introduced for jockeys is not to catch those enhancing their performance, rather like an athlete with anabolic steroids, but to find those who are having their performance impaired,' Michael Caulfield, the Association's secretary, said yesterday. 'I wish to have the same procedures for officials in case their performance is impaired as well, especially if they have a drink at lunchtime.'

This could appear bad news for both stewards and vineyard owners, but Dr Michael Turner, the Jockey Club's medical officer, has already pledged his personal support for the move. If his thoughts are confirmed at Portman Square, the Pinot Noir will be sent back and Perrier consumed in greater quantities at courses such as Kelseau.

'From an outsider's point of view I suppose there is an element of humour to this because there has always been this image of a steward,' Caulfield, who is also requesting that all alcohol is removed from steward's rooms, said. 'But it's a serious one, and why not move away from old images, move away from the bowler-hat thing. It doesn't help the sport and you only have to look back to April and remember the cartoons that appeared after the National to recognise the importance of image.'

L'addition on a silver tray for the stewards may therefore soon be followed by an inglorious appointment with the specimen bottle, as Caulfield would like to see them subject to the same urine test his members will have to undertake. The upper limit for jockeys will be the 80 milligrams of alochol per 100 millilitres of blood allowed drivers of more predictable vehicles.

'I would ask for exactly the same levels, the same tests that will be introduced for the jockeys,' Caulfield said. 'A urine test, the same test that is used for Olympic athletes. It won't be a case of cough and spit into a hankie, please.'

Kelso's 12.40 was declared void yesterday after jockeys finished the race despite the 11th fence being omitted. Clare Coast lay fatally-injured on the landing side of a fence after falling on the first circuit. A track official waved riders on, contrary to the rules. 'It could have been worse - it could have been the Grand National,' said Chris Grant, rider of the 'winner', Clyde Ranger.