Oisin Murphy handed 14-month ban for breaking Covid and alcohol rules

Irish jockey relinquished his licence in December to focus on rehabilitation

Champion jockey Oisin Murphy cannot reapply for his licence for a total of 14 months after admitting to breaking Covid rules, misleading the British Horseracing Authority and prejudicial conduct, plus two alcohol breaches.

The rider faced an independent judiciary panel on Tuesday in relation to breaking Covid protocols in September 2020, and two failed tests for alcohol in May and October of 2021 — as well as one charge of “acting in a manner which is prejudicial to the proper integrity, conduct and good reputation of the sport”.

Murphy, who did not contest any of the charges, was given three 11-month suspensions for the two Covid breaches and conduct prejudicial to the reputation of the sport, all to run concurrently, along with a £31,111 fine.

He was also given 10 days for an alcohol positive for his test at Chester on May 5th and a further 90 days for another positive recorded at Newmarket on October 8th, meaning he can return to race-riding on February 16th, 2023.

Murphy made a lengthy statement to the BHA panel, in which he outlined his alcohol issues and admitted lying about his whereabouts in 2020. He concluded by saying: “I couldn’t undo the lies and deceit. Now that I’m sober I’m a different person and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have made those errors sober, but I can’t go back in time and I’m afraid they were grave issues.

“I dealt with success and failure the same. Drink was the rock I perished on. People had told me this could happen but I failed to avoid it and fell into the trap.

“The day I picked up the championship trophy there was no element of joy in it for me. I admit all the breaches and just wish I could have dealt with them better.”

In handing out the punishment, James O’Mahony, who chaired the BHA panel, said: “He’s a young man, a brilliant jockey and a superb horseman and we’re not here to criticise you for the sake of it, but to explain our reasons and apply the rules.

“But however affected by fiction that you may have been, we conclude you thought you were above the rules and the law. And however high you are, you are not above them. They apply to all. All you had to do was self-isolate as countless others had to do, but you embarked on a deception that was planned, carefully calculated and detailed and it was prolonged for a significant period of time.

“You had time to think ‘what am I doing?’ but you only put your hands up when you had your back against the wall. The lie began on September 17th, 2020 to May 25th, 2021 and then you reinforced the lie by giving elaborate details to the media making reference to the “Italian bulge”.

“In the period between September 13th-26th you took 74 rides with significant winnings (11 winners) and we conclude that the breach of the second offence was aggravated by the advantage you gained in the jockeys’ championship.”

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