Murphy faces three-month ban after positive cocaine test

Champion jockey Oisin Murphy has been banned for three months by France Galop after testing positive for metabolites of cocaine.

Murphy, who successfully defended his title this season, failed a test at Chantilly on July 19 – having ridden The Lir Jet, owned by his bosses, Qatar Racing.

Having always strenuously denied he had taken any drugs, Murphy requested a B sample – and upon receiving the results, France Galop held a hearing on Wednesday.

The ban will run from December 11 until March 11.

Murphy won the 2000 Guineas earlier this year on Kameko for Andrew Balding
Murphy won the 2000 Guineas earlier this year on Kameko for Andrew Balding (PA)

In similar cases the punishment has been a six-month suspension, however, the panel were persuaded by a combination of a hair sample and Murphy’s testimony that the positive test arose from an unintentional, environmental contamination.

Murphy has announced he will not appeal against the suspension, which ends before the Flat Turf season begins in Britain on March 27.

In a statement issued through the Professional Jockeys Association, he said: “I would like to thank France Galop and the panel of Commissioners for a fair hearing and for accepting the evidence I presented that I had not taken cocaine.

“This evidence included my hair sample results – the results of which I am making public today – and an expert witness statement from an eminent toxicology and anti-doping expert.

“Whilst I am obviously disappointed that I will still have to serve a three-month suspension, I am pleased the Commissioners accepted the evidence presented and am hugely relieved to have been cleared of taking cocaine.

“I respect the rules of France Galop, respect their decision and will not be appealing.  Despite my relief, I regretfully put myself in a situation whereby cocaine has been able to filter into my system through environmental contamination and must live with the consequences.

“As a professional sportsman I cannot put myself in a similar situation again.

“Even though I have been exonerated from taking cocaine, I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to Sheikh Fahad al Thani, David Redvers and Andrew Balding and thank them for their support.

Murphy has been crowned champion jockey for the last two years
Murphy has been crowned champion jockey for the last two years (Simon Cooper/PA)

“I also want to thank my legal team, particularly Florence Gaudilliere, who represented me in France but also Rory Mac Neice, the Professional Jockeys Association,  Johnno Spence and others who have advised and supported me throughout.

“Finally, I would also like to apologise to the whole Qatar Racing team, to the owners and trainers I ride for, my supporters, my weighing room colleagues and to my commercial partners as well as Racing to School.

“The next three months will give me much time to reflect on my actions, but I will learn from this experience and come back better and even more determined than before.”

Balding, who handed Murphy his big breakthrough as an apprentice jockey, said: “Oisin Murphy arrived at Kingsclere in 2012 and is very much part of the Park House family. I have been very proud to watch him thrive in the saddle, but also as an ambassador for the sport.

Andrew Balding and Oisin Murphy following Kameko's Guineas win
Andrew Balding and Oisin Murphy following Kameko’s Guineas win (Edward Whitaker/PA)

“Oisin is a kind, trustworthy and dedicated part of the team. I never doubted he was innocent, but I know this will really hurt him and I will make sure we do everything to help him return as a stronger and better person.”

The British Horseracing Authority confirmed it would reciprocate Murphy’s French ban.

A statement said: “The BHA is a signatory to the International Agreement between racing nations. All signatories to the Agreement must include within its Rules a provision that suspensions incurred in recognised racing authorities must be reciprocated.

“Therefore any suspension would automatically reciprocated as and when we are alerted to it by an internationally recognised body.”

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