Five-year entry-level bans to be imposed on jockeys for positive drug tests

Dylan Robinson gets three-year suspension for positive cocaine test

Jockeys who test positive for cocaine in Ireland can expect entry level licence suspension of five years from now on.

On Friday the leading conditional jockey Dylan Robinson was confirmed to be the fifth rider in Ireland to test positive for cocaine in 2018.

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board said a referrals committee panel earlier this week suspended Robinson for three years after the Co Waterford-based rider tested positive for the banned substance at Galway in October.

The three-year ban has been backdated to the start of this year and the committee said they will consider a partial suspension of the penalty which potentially could allow Robinson ride again from January 1st, 2020.


However that would be subject to the jockey having “positive engagement with medical and associated matters at the time”.

In January the IHRB announced a five-year starting point penalty for any rider who fails a drugs test.

That was after apprentice Damian Melia and amateur rider Conor Murphy were both suspended for testing positive for cocaine.

Melia was banned for four years but can reapply for his licence after nine months. Murphy was suspended for five years and can reapply in 18 months.

In all 13 riders have tested positive for cocaine in the last four years and the increased entry level suspension is designed to be a greater deterrent.

Robinson's case was adjourned in January and the IHRB's chief executive Denis Egan said on Friday: "The five year entry point was announced on the evening his case was adjourned. We can't retrospectively ban a rider if it didn't apply at the time.

“From now on riders can expect a headline ban of five years. What portion, if any, is suspended – and I’m sure they will suspend a portion – will very much depend on the facts of the case.”

Robinson has ridden principally for trainer Henry De Bromhead and rode the Grade Three winner, Ornua, at Roscommon last October.

In evidence to the referrals committee, the jockey  accepted he was in breach of the rule but couldn’t explain why as he “could not remember the events from the night in question” and “did not remember taking any substance.”

The committee panel said it accepted Robinson’s “great remorse” and that what had happened was a “one-off”.

However they stressed the seriousness of the situation and how Robinson “compromised the safety of other riders by riding with cocaine in this system”.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column