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David Simmonson (Rider) – Banned Substance – Tipperary, 11th August 2019


The Referrals Committee, Justice Tony Hunt (in the Chair), Mr. Philip Caffrey and Mr. Anthony Byrne convened at the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB),  The Curragh, Co. Kildare on Friday, 29th November 2019 to consider a report from Laboratori Antidopatge de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, that samples of urine taken from Mr. David Simmonson (Rider) during in-competition testing at Tipperary Racecourse, Co. Tipperary on 11th August 2019 were found to contain benzoylecgonine (metabolite of cocaine) and 11-nor-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid (metabolite of cannabis).

Under the Rules of Racing and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules, cocaine is a banned substance because it acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system with addictive and hallucinogenic properties. Cannabis is a banned substance because it acts as a psychotropic agent on the central nervous system.

Both substances are prohibited in-competition pursuant to the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List International Standard as adopted by the IHRB.

Mr. Simmonson did not request the ‘B’ Sample to be analysed.

Evidence was heard from Dr Jennifer Pugh, Senior IHRB Medical Officer and Mr. Simmonson.

In her evidence, Dr. Pugh outlined the effects of taking cocaine and cannabis and detailed her interactions with Mr. Simmonson. Dr. Pugh confirmed that Mr. Simmonson had cooperated fully and engaged extensively with a rehabilitation programme.

In his evidence, Mr. Simmonson accepted that he was in breach of the rule and outlined the details of the rehabilitation programme he has undertaken. Mr. Simmonson also added that he had worked closely with Ms. Helen O’Sullivan in RACE to partake in various courses and said he was using his time at present to look at other career options.

Having considered the evidence, the Referrals Committee accepted the guilty plea and confirmed the breach of Rule 277(i).

In arriving at a penalty, the Referrals Committee accepted Mr. Simmonson’s evidence and the detail of Mr. Simmonson’s positive engagement offered by Dr. Pugh. The Referrals Committee complimented Mr. Simmonson on the manner in which he had addressed the serious difficulties he faced and acknowledged his willingness to deal with these issues both before and after testing positive. They agreed that Mr. Simmonson’s significant efforts to address matters prior to the positive test needed to be reflected in the way they would deal with penalty.

They imposed a penalty of a two year suspension of Mr. Simmonson’s licence to apply with effect from the date of his most recent ride, 11th August 2019. In view of the exceptional circumstances and the mitigating factors, they agreed that they would review the matter again within one year should Mr. Simmonson wish to reapply to the Committee for a review of the suspension. They agreed that at any future hearing they would consider the issue of a partial suspension of the penalty from 11th August 2020 subject to evidence of Mr. Simmonson’s positive engagement with medical and associated matters between now and then.

The case was presented by Cliodhna Guy, Solicitor, Head of Licensing, Legal and Compliance.

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