Struthers calls for more drug test­ing not longer bans

The Guardian - - SPORT - Chris Cook

Rac­ing’s rul­ing body should re­frain from copy­ing the Ir­ish ex­am­ple in seek­ing harsher penal­ties for jock­eys who fail drug tests and in­stead con­sider a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the num­ber of tests car­ried out, ac­cord­ing to Paul Struthers, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Pro­fes­sional Jock­eys As­so­ci­a­tion. He was speak­ing yes­ter­day, two days after it emerged that jock­eys caught in Ire­land with co­caine in their sys­tems will face en­try-point rid­ing bans of five years.

Ir­ish of­fi­cials jus­ti­fied the sever­ity of their stance by say­ing their an­tidrug mes­sage was ev­i­dently “not get­ting through”, in light of five pos­i­tive tests last year. But Struthers doubts whether longer bans will have the de­sired de­ter­rent ef­fect.

“They had two-year sus­pen­sions, they in­creased them to four years and the mes­sage now is, ef­fec­tively, it’s still not work­ing, so we’ll in­crease it to five. Well, if two years or four years aren’t work­ing, is five years go­ing to make the dif­fer­ence?

“My view is, with­out con­don­ing the be­hav­iour, peo­ple can make a mis­take. The penal­ties need to be a de­ter­rent but don’t need to be so swinge­ing that their en­tire life is ru­ined and, frankly, five years pretty much does that.”

There have been fewer re­cent pos­i­tive tests for co­caine in Bri­tain, where the typ­i­cal pun­ish­ment for a first of­fence is a six-month sus­pen­sion. Struthers feels that is pos­si­bly le­nient but added: “I do feel what’s more im­por­tant is ed­u­ca­tion and test­ing. And I think there’s a strong ar­gu­ment that the de­ter­rent is the risk of get­ting caught, not the sanc­tion when you get caught.

“For the last two years we’ve been lob­by­ing the British Horserac­ing Au­thor­ity for in­creased test­ing. Hope­fully, if any jockey is minded to take some­thing, more test­ing would give you pause for thought. At the mo­ment there might be 500 urine sam­ples a year, with the aim of en­sur­ing ev­ery jockey is tested once. But one test a year is not much and the chance of be­ing caught is not great.”

He sug­gested the BHA could in­crease its test­ing by hav­ing its own staff col­lect sam­ples at the track rather than con­tract­ing out that job.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.