McDonald off to rough start after positive test

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 July, 2012, 12:00am


Visiting jockey James McDonald will know this morning whether he can take his rides at Sha Tin on Sunday after his inauspicious start went from bad to worse yesterday with a positive test to a diuretic drug.

McDonald, 20, flew overnight from New Zealand last Saturday to take mounts at Sha Tin, where he succumbed to the heat and he was stood down after the first four of his seven scheduled engagements. Then on Wednesday night, he was struck down by flu and missed all of his rides, two of which won.

The Jockey Club's laboratory yesterday informed the stewards that a random urine sample from last Sunday contained hydrochlorothiazide and chlorothiazide, both of which are diuretics and on the club's list of prohibited substances.

McDonald (pictured), who could not be contacted for comment, waived his right to have the reserve, or B portion, of the sample tested independently for verification.

He was then asked to submit a further sample and the findings are expected to be known this morning. Stewards have not ordered McDonald be replaced on his rides for Sunday and since he has forgone his right to an independent test he will be able to take his place provided the latest sample is clear.

Stewards will hold an inquiry into the positive test at a later date and chief steward Kim Kelly indicated there was no connection between McDonald's positive test and his standing down from Happy Valley on Wednesday night.

Diuretics, such as lasix, aid with overcoming fluid retention and were once widely used by jockeys for weight reduction. They have disappeared in the past decade as jockeys became better informed on dealing with weight problems.

In 1999, apprentice Henry Tsang Kam-chuen returned a positive test to a diuretic and received a six-day suspension, while Australian jockey Mark de Montfort returned Hong Kong's most recent lasix positive, in October 2000, and was suspended for two days and fined HK$10,000.