Brown gets six-month ban for cocaine
Australian becomes the third jockey in four years to fall foul of drugs rules
Australian jockey Corey Brown has been suspended for six months after becoming the third Hong Kong-based rider in four years to test positive to cocaine.
The 'B sample' report from the Australian Sports Drug Testing Laboratory that arrived yesterday confirmed the original 'A sample' finding by the Jockey Club's own laboratory late last month. And stewards quickly convened a hearing with Brown yesterday afternoon.
At that hearing, stewards took further evidence before finding Brown guilty of a breach of rule of racing 60 (1) in that the urine sample he supplied, as directed by the stewards, on 23 March, 2006, had shown the presence of the prohibited substance cocaine and its metabolites, benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine.
Brown's licence was suspended until September 28, 2006, with the six-month ban backdated to March 28 - the date on which the stewards panel stood Brown down from race riding after the original drug test irregularity.
His penalty exactly replicates those handed down to the German rider Andrasch Starke, who pleaded not guilty in January 2002, and to Olivier Doleuze, who pleaded guilty in April 2003, to the same infraction. Brown could not be contacted for comment last night and it is unknown if he plans to use his right of appeal against the finding.
'Corey Brown still does have that right, so the club doesn't wish to comment on his case in particular at this stage,' said executive director of racing, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, last night. 'However, on the more general matter of drug testing, we don't believe there is any need to further increase our random testing of jockeys. The club virtually doubled the number of tests following the Doleuze case three years ago and we believe our testing is as stringent as anywhere in the world.'
The club has not reported any amount or level of the prohibited substances discovered, but under its zero-tolerance policy even the most minute trace of any illegal substance is sufficient to constitute a breach of the rules.
While the suspension, as it stands, will keep Brown out of race riding for six months, it would not prevent him from riding trackwork, barrier trials or attending premises where horseracing or training is conducted.
Brown was randomly asked to provide a urine sample at Happy Valley at the March 22 meeting, but was unable to do so and stewards directed him to produce a sample after the trackwork session the following day.
That sample showed positive and a shocked Brown requested that the untested, or B sample, then be analysed independently at the Australian Sports Drug Testing Laboratory.
A Dr Kazlauskas conducted the analysis, which confirmed the presence of presence of cocaine, benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine, and that was the report returned yesterday.
Engelbrecht-Bresges scotched speculation that Brown's suspension would prompt the club to search for 'stop-gap' jockeys to boost numbers while Anthony Delpech and Nick Ryan are on the injured list.
Delpech fell after the winning post and broke a collarbone on March 12, while Ryan suffered a fracture in a foot in an incident behind the barriers at Happy Valley three days later.
'We did consider that might have been necessary. But our information is that Delpech will be back riding in two to three weeks and Ryan probably the week after him and, with other jockeys having finished suspensions for other matters, we don't feel that there is a shortfall,' Engelbrecht-Bresges said.