Oisin Murphy drugs ban reduced after claiming 'sexual contact' defence

Greg Wood
·4-min read
<span>Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Oisin Murphy, Britain’s champion jockey, has been given a three-month suspension following his positive test for cocaine after riding in France in July, three months shorter than bans served by Frankie Dettori and Kieren Fallon for the same offence in the past, after telling a disciplinary hearing that the positive was due to “environmental contamination”, apparently via sexual contact with a user of the Class A drug.

The decision to ban Murphy for three months was released by the French racing authorities on Friday afternoon, following a disciplinary hearing earlier in the week.

Related: Talking Horses: jockey gets eight-week ban over 'absurd' World Trip ride

His suspension will run from 11 December to 11 March, which means that Murphy, the favourite to win the Flat jockeys’ championship for the third year running in 2021, will be back in the saddle in time for the start of the title race in May.

When news emerged of Murphy’s positive test in October, the rider strongly denied having taken the Class A drug and insisted that he would clear his name.

He provided France Galop, the sport’s regulator in France, with the results of a private test on samples of his hair and also told the hearing that he had sex the night before his ride on The Lir Jet at Chantilly on 19 July with a partner who he subsequently discovered had used cocaine.

In a statement released through the Professional Jockeys’ Association, Murphy thanked France Galop and its disciplinary panel “for accepting the evidence I presented that I had not taken cocaine”.

He added: “This evidence included my hair sample results, the results of which I am making public today, and an expert witness statement from an eminent toxicology and anti-doping expert.”

Murphy’s statement continued: “Whilst I am obviously disappointed that I will still have to serve a three-month suspension, I am pleased the Commissioners [France Galop’s panel] accepted the evidence presented and am hugely relieved to have been cleared of taking cocaine.

“I respect the rules of France Galop, respect their decision and will not be appealing. Despite my relief, I regretfully put myself in a situation whereby cocaine has been able to filter into my system through environmental contamination and must live with the consequences. As a professional sportsman I cannot put myself in a similar situation again.

Newcastle
11.45
Castel Gandolfo 12.20 Oscar Ceremony 12.55 Tupelo Mississippi 1.30 The Ferry Master 2.05 Epatante 2.40 Largy Mouth 3.15 The Butcher Said (nb) 

Doncaster
12.05
Furius De Ciergues 12.35 Gunsight Ridge 1.08 Didonato 1.43 Ashington 2.18 Dublin Four 2.53 Beach Break 3.28 Tele Red 

Newbury
12.10
Politesse 12.40 Next Destination 1.15 Kapcorse 1.50 Tea Clipper 2.25 Milkwood 3.00 Potterman (nap) 3.35 Ibleo 

Bangor
12.15
Pink Legend 12.47 Rizzardo 1.22 Checkitout 1.57 Guard Your Dreams 2.32 Took The Lot 3.07 Rollercoaster 3.42 Time To Follow

Wolverhampton
4.00
Charming Kid 4.30 The Quiet Rebel 5.00 Little Kitten 5.30 Liberated Lady 6.00 Leo Davinci 6.30 Boy George 7.00 Rovaniemi 7.30 Bombastic

“Even though I have been exonerated from taking cocaine, I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to Sheikh Fahad al Thani [who retains him as principal jockey for Qatar Racing], [QR’s racing manager] David Redvers and [trainer] Andrew Balding and thank them for their support.

“Finally, I would also like to apologise to the whole Qatar Racing team, to the owners and trainers I ride for, my supporters, my weighing room colleagues and to my commercial partners as well as [educational charity] Racing to School.

“The next three months will give me much time to reflect on my actions but I will learn from this experience and come back better and even more determined than before.”

Meanwhile, jockey Nathan Evans was banned on Friday for six months after testing positive for a metabolite of cocaine. A sample given by Evans at York on 20 August was found to contain the banned substance benzoylecgonine.

Evans has had his licence withdrawn until 26 February next year following a British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel hearing, with the suspension backdated to 27 August.

There was a nasty incident on the Flat at Dundalk on Friday evening when Clonard Abbey was a faller in an apprentice handicap over 12 furlongs and brought down Capablanca, who was close behind. The horses’ respective jockeys, Gavin Ryan and Alan Persse, escaped without serious injuries as did Capablanca, but Clonard Abbey suffered a fatal injury.