"The New Year has started with a bang, and I hope it is a sign of things to come in 2012." These are the opening words on trainer Jim Boyle's website. Yesterday morning there was an unwelcome bang on his doormat with a notification from the British Horseracing Authority that he was to be charged with a doping offence involving sodium bicarbonate, sometimes referred to as "milkshaking."
Boyle faces six different charges connected with the running of New Den in a race at Lingfield in April last year. The horse provided a positive sample after the race, when he was found to be over the limit for the level of carbon dioxide in his blood. Boyle faces six charges around his use of sodium bicarbonate and whether the explanation that he gave on the day was an attempt to mislead the authorities.
Sodium bicarbonate is thought to improve performance by reducing the level of lactic acid in muscle, which leads to tiredness during exercise. It's the problem long-distance runners are suffering from when they talk of hitting the wall during a race.
Boyle, a qualified vet who trains at Epsom, said, "I'm deeply saddened that the BHA has seen fit to bring these allegations against me as I gave a full and frank explanation of the circumstances from day one. Anyone who knows me will realise how totally ludicrous these allegations are."
The most serious charge is that Boyle has administered a prohibited substance. If found guilty he could face a fine of up to £12,000 or be warned off for up to 5 years. In the only previous case involving the use of sodium bicarbonate trainer Matt Gingell was warned off for two years in 2009.
Boyle's hearing at the Disciplinary Panel of the BHA will take place between 26 and 28 March.