Six-month ban for Carson over drug use
Grandson of champion jockey took cocaine BHA looking into ways it can ‘support’ riders
William Carson, grandson of the five-time champion Flat jockey Willie Carson, was banned from riding by a disciplinary panel for six months yesterday for testing positive for cocaine.
However, because his licence was suspended by the British Horseracing Authority on an interim basis on April 4 while its investigation took place, his ban was backdated and he will be allowed to reapply for his licence on Oct 4.
Carson, 30, for whom over 450 career winners include Regal Parade in the 2008 Ayr Gold Cup, had not ridden a winner this year when he returned a positive test at Lingfield on March 27. Carson admitted taking “eight or nine lines” of cocaine in a pub on a Monday night, just two days before riding in races at Lingfield and Kempton.
The jockey, who has suffered from depression since 2015, spent some time away from racing last winter and again this summer, but for the past two months has been riding out for David Elsworth and is thinking about a comeback.
His solicitor, Rory Macneice, said: “William has been treated by his GP for depression since May 2015 and battled it privately. He accepts the findings and the punishment. He telephoned Paul Struthers [chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association] on the day of the test saying he would fail.”
At the end of the hearing, Jenny Pitman, the former trainer and a member of the three-person panel, spoke to the jockey about drug use. “She spoke sensitively to William about drugs,” added Macneice.
Carson is the second jockey to have tested positive for cocaine this year, while three others have returned from bans in the past 12 months. “We’re aware that a range of sports are seeing an increase in positives for cocaine, as is wider society,” said a BHA spokesperson. “We are working with riders through the PJA to understand why this is happening.” It was reported last night that jockeys might soon face mandatory hair testing for traces of drugs.
At Newmarket yesterday, Aidan O’brien’s two-year-old Wichita ran out a seven-length winner of the Tattersalls Stakes over seven furlongs, while popular stayer Withhold also returned to winning ways in the Jockey Club Rose Bowl.
Today, Roger Varian could be the trainer to follow. He runs three fillies, headed by Daahyeh, winner of the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Although no pushover, it looks a good chance for her to get another win under her belt. Varian will also be glad to get the unbeaten UAE Jewel back on track after an absence of 146 days in the Joel Stakes.
Troubled times: William Carson has been treated for depression since May 2015