Oisin Murphy must act like a world-class sportsman in order to avoid finding himself in situations which could lead to a failed drugs test, according to Matt Chapman.
The champion jockey tested positive for cocaine in July and is facing a potential six-month ban but denies taking the drug and says he will “fight to clear his name”.
ITV Racing expert and pundit Chapman has explained the intricacies of the case, with 25-year-old Murphy currently awaiting the results of a B sample after organising for an independent laboratory to undertake hair tests, which came back negative.
Speaking on the latest episode of Paddy Power’s From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, Chapman said: “It’s fairly simple – he’s had the A sample tested, the A sample was positive although we don’t know to what degree and the degrees makes a huge amount of difference. But it’s a positive test at the end of the day.
“Some people of course shout in social media land and just say ‘well okay it’s a positive test, you’re guilty’. But anyone who actually understands this even a modicum understands that a positive test doesn’t necessarily mean you’re guilty of anything.
“So now he has a B sample tested. I’m not absolutely sure, in fact I have no idea, why the whole process takes so long. This was back in July, you’d have thought you just send it off to the lab, you get your urine sample tested and that’s it.
“But for some reason we’re still waiting for that B sample and if the B sample is positive as well, you would imagine that France Galop will be banning Oisin for at least six months depending on the degrees of the positive tests.
“As far as Oisin is concerned, he’s had his hair samples done – which jockeys have done in the past. Those have all come back with the suggestion in probability he has not taken cocaine but France Galop takes no notice of that because of those words ‘in probability’, which of course still leaves the possibility that he did.
“So they’re not foolproof or anything like that. The reason, if you’re thinking ‘well why bother?’, is because it’s public perception – Oisin can at least say ‘look I had my hair samples done and there was no sign of cocaine on my hair samples’ which at the very least suggests that the amount of substance we’re talking is miniscule.
Official statement from Oisin Murphy pic.twitter.com/cd5s9HmkcD
— Oisín Murphy (@oismurphy) October 1, 2020
“But the French test 50 nanograms in a millilitre of urine. In the UK and Ireland we test a 150 nanograms – they’re all tiny amounts but that difference makes quite a big difference. So it might well be, although we will never know for a fact, that Oisin wouldn’t have tested positive in the UK and Ireland.
“Cutting all this down to simplicity, the answer to all of this is of course not about taking cocaine or not taking cocaine. Obviously no-one should be taking cocaine but the obvious answer to all of this is you’ve just got to not put yourself into that possibility.
“And I know it’s hard when you’re a young guy, you’re earning lots of money, you want to go out and experience life like a normal person, but you’re not a normal person. You’re a jockey – you’re possibly a champion jockey in the case of Oisin Murphy – so if the other lads are saying ‘let’s go down the pub, let’s have a chat with a few girls ladidah’, you’ve just got to say well no, actually no I can’t, I’m champion jockey and I just can’t be doing that kind of thing.
“For me that’s the more important side of it – if you want to be a world-class sportsman, you have to act like a world-class sportsman. Better still, just act like Pat Smullen always used to act.”
Murphy has ridden 114 winners this year, including the 2,000 Guineas aboard Kameko in June, and is on course to retain his Flat Jockeys Championship title.
He returned a positive test for metabolites of cocaine following a urine sample at Chantilly Racecourse on July 19 and learned of the result via text message a month later, but has been allowed to continue riding while an investigation takes place.
If France Galop do decide to ban Murphy, that does not mean he is necessarily prevented from riding elsewhere but Chapman thinks this situation is very unlikely.
“It’s not set in stone,” he said. “Technically the British Horseracing Authority could decide not to reciprocate the ban, but they would need a reason for that and the reason has to be that they feel that France Galop have in some way not followed their own rules. They would have to have a lawyer from Oisin who could say ‘look this is in the rules, France Galop didn’t do that’.
“Now if that was the case then Oisin would have a case to go to the BHA, but if he can’t find anything that [suggests] France Galop haven’t followed their own rules, then the BHA would just go with the ban because at the end of the day there’s no point in having agreements between nations if you’re not going to agree between those nations.
“It all becomes a bit of a farce so if Oisin’s lawyers can find something that the system has not done correctly in France, then he would have a case. But if it’s all been done correctly but the tests are just positive, then there’s not much you can do as far as I can see.”
Ruby Walsh, who was tested countless times during his 24-year riding career, explained the process.
“The testing regime is infrequent but straightforward,” he said. “I got tested more at the big meetings than the lesser ones, definitely in Ireland anyway. I was tested at Auteuil – that was the only place I ever rode in France – and I was tested at Cheltenham and Aintree.
“They used to test more regularly at the lesser meetings in the UK than they did towards the end of my career. I was previously tested at Uttoxeter and Taunton, places like that, but its the same as it is for every other sportsperson.
“There is an independent testing officer, and you have to produce a urine sample. It’s split into two bottles then put into two bags with all the codes and numbers there for you to check. You make sure the one on the bag matches the one on the bottle, then that all goes into a box and you have to make sure the codes on the bag and bottle match the codes on the box. It takes about 20 minutes to go through all the paperwork, let alone how long it would take for you to produce a sample. It is pretty rigorous.
“I didn’t know it was tested to a greater extent in France than in Ireland and the UK but it’s a sticky situation for Oisin Murphy. He has stated his innocence, but he will have to prove how the cocaine got into his system if he’s going to get off, and I don’t know how he’s going to do that.”
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