It's a widespread social issue, not a racing issue

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 September, 2010, 12:00am

The ketamine case of Kevin Leung Ka-wai will doubtless generate some knee-jerk criticism of the Jockey Club over its apprentice programme.

There will be those who will ask 'where was the club while this was going on?' Or why was a young jockey, still learning under the aegis of the club, able to find himself in such a position, however, the drug entered his metabolism?

But the reality is that, as racing director Bill Nader commented, short of locking people up, or following them 24 hours a day, there is only so much the club or anyone else can do to prevent drug positives - it is a widespread social issue, not specifically a racing issue.

The club's main roles are in education, about the dangers of drugs and the risks to health and career, and in conducting a transparent, frequent-testing regime that ensures riders are aware they are rolling the house's loaded dice any time they are around drugs. They can only go so far. Ultimately, the individual decides how he or she lives, with whom they mix and what risks are acceptable.

Sadly, Marco Chui Kwan-lai didn't learn from his first mistake with ketamine and it will be a stern test of his powers of application to resurrect his career when he returns next spring. Hopefully, Leung will only take one stumble to understand the lesson.