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James J. Smyth Referral - Leopardstown 9th February 2013


James J. Smyth – Banned Substance

Leopardstown – 9th February 2013

The Referrals Committee, Judge Tony Hunt (in the Chair), Mrs. J.O. Onions and Philip Caffrey met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on Monday, 15th July 2013 to consider a report from IMIM Hospitaldelmar in Barcelona, Spain, regarding the fact that a sample of urine taken from James J. Smyth (rider), during in-competition testing on 9th February 2013 at Leopardstown Racecourse, Co. Dublin was found to contain Furosemide.  Under the Rules of Racing and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules, Furosemide is a banned substance because it is a diuretic which acts on the kidneys and inhibits re-absorption of water and has a diuretic effect.  Furosemide is prohibited in-competition pursuant to the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List International Standard, as adopted by the Turf Club.  As James J. Smyth did not indicate within 14 days of the date of notification of the “A” sample result whether or not he wanted the “B” sample to be tested, he was deemed to have accepted the result of the “A” sample analysis under the provisions of Rule 278 (vi)(c).

Evidence was heard from Dr. Carlos McDowell, Turf Club Medical Officer, and James J. Smyth.

In her evidence Dr. Carlos McDowell said that Furosemide is a loop diuretic.  It is called a loop diuretic as it works in the loop of henle in the kidney.  It is a potent diuretic and leads to rapid diuresis i.e. fluid loss.  It acts by inhibiting the re-absorption of sodium and chloride and increases loss of magnesium and calcium.

The onset of action after oral administration is within one hour and fluid loss continues for 6-8 hours.

In medical practice it is used for the treatment of fluid retention due to heart failure and to lower blood pressure.  It is also used in the treatment of cirrhosis of the liver and other conditions where rapid fluid loss is required e.g. cerebral oedema (brain swelling).

Side effects include dehydration, low blood pressure, loss of sodium and potassium leading to cramps and in more severe cases irregularity of the heart.

It is described as a masking agent for other chemicals in that by diluting the urine, other chemicals may not be detected.

In his evidence James J. Smyth outlined the background to what occurred. He said he suffered a fall at a point-to-point which resulted in discomfort. As a result he got medication from a friend to ease the pain not knowing what the medication was. It was only when the sample result returned positive that he found out that he had inadvertently taken furosemide. Having considered the evidence, the committee found that James Smyth’s actions to be reckless, firstly insofar as he had taken a substance not knowing what it was which could have been detrimental to his own health and secondly they felt he should have been more careful in view of the fact that he had returned a positive result, albeit accidently, from a previous drugs test in 2009. As a result the Committee regarded this matter most seriously and said that they wanted to set down a marker with regard to the dangers of self-medication. They imposed a fine of €1,000 on James Smyth and ordered that he pay a contribution of €350 towards the Turf Club’s costs.

The case was presented by Conal Boyce, Wilkinson & Price Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.  James J. Smyth was represented by Andrew Coonan, Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.

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