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Eric McNamara (Trainer) Prohibited Substance Referral – Ballinrobe 10th August 2020

The Referrals Committee, Mr. Peter M. Allen, (in the chair), Mr. Finbar Cahill and Mr. Peter N. Reynolds convened via Zoom on Wednesday, 25th November 2020 to consider whether or not Eric McNamara (Trainer) was in breach of any rules as a result of a report received from LGC Laboratories, Fordham, UK.

The report stated that the blood sample taken from Drifting Back, following his win in the Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Maiden Hurdle at Ballinrobe on 10th August 2020, was found to contain triamcinolone acetonide (TCA). Under Rule 20(v) and Regulation R14 of the Rules of Racing and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules triamcinolone acetonide is a prohibited substance.

The option of ‘B’ sample analysis was requested by Mr. McNamara and the finding of triamcinolone acetonide was confirmed by Laboratoire des Courses Hippiques in France on 9th September 2020.

Evidence was heard from Dr. Lynn Hillyer, IHRB Chief Veterinary Officer and Head of Anti-Doping and Mr. McNamara.

In her evidence, Dr Hillyer summarised the investigation into the adverse analytical finding. She confirmed that TCA is a corticosteroid anti-inflammatory and analgesic medication commonly used in equine practice. She stated that Mr. McNamara confirmed to her that Drifting Back had been treated with Adcortyl, a product containing TCA, on 20th June 2020. This was certified in his medicines register and an accompanying prescription as being administered in the region of the interspinous processes (back) at a dose of 20mg. Dr. Hillyer stated that the minimum stand down time for TCA is 14 days but that this should not be confused with a withdrawal time, which must take account of the dose and site of administration.  She added that the back is a complex region and injections there can be associated with longer excretion times than for simpler joints. This was demonstrated through the elective testing offered to Mr. McNamara with both blood and urine samples taken from the gelding on 3rd September 2020 being still reported as positive.

In his evidence, Mr. McNamara outlined a brief history of the veterinary attention Drifting Back had received and stated that he was advised by his veterinary surgeon, Mr. Derek Long, that a 30-day withdrawal period was required following the administration of Adcortyl on June 20th. Mr. McNamara added that he therefore felt happy in his own mind running the horse on 10th August as this was some weeks after the advised withdrawal time had lapsed. He admitted that he was flabbergasted by the horse still testing positive in September. Mr. McNamara stated that he had submitted a urine sample to another laboratory in October which returned a negative result but confirmed that he would take another elective test via the IHRB prior to running the horse.  

Having considered the evidence, the Committee were satisfied that Mr. McNamara was in breach of Rule 96(a) as a prohibited substance was present in the sample taken from Drifting Back following his win at Ballinrobe. They disqualified Drifting Back, ordered that the stake be forfeited and amended the result to read as follows:

First:        Rippon Lodge

Second:   Silk Worm

Third:       Siberian Star (GB)

Fourth:    Bull Halsey 

Fifth:        Will You Win

Sixth:       Happie Days  

The Committee also imposed a €1,000 fine on Mr. McNamara, however waived it under Rule 96(a) and advised Mr. McNamara to avail of IHRB elective testing until all parties could be satisfied that the horse would not test positive. 

The case was presented by Ms. Cliodhna Guy, IHRB Head of Legal, Licensing & Compliance.


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