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Michael John O’Connor (Rider) – Banned Substance Punchestown, 14th November 2015


The Referrals Committee, Sean Barry (in the Chair), Laurence McFerran and Mrs J.O. Onions met in the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on Wednesday, 2nd March 2016 to consider a report from IMIM Hospitaldelmar in Barcelona, Spain regarding the fact that a sample of urine taken from Michael John O’Connor, rider, during in-competition testing on 14th November 2015 at Punchestown Racecourse, Co Kildare, was found to contain Bisoprolol. Under the Rules of Racing and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules, Bisoprolol is a banned substance because it is a Beta-blocker and is prohibited in-competition pursuant to the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List International Standard 2015 as adopted by the Turf Club. As Michael John O’Connor did not request the ‘B’ sample be analysed, he was deemed to have accepted the results of the ‘A’ sample pursuant to Rule 278(vi)(c).

Evidence was heard from Dr Adrian McGoldrick, Turf Club Senior Medical Officer and Michael John O’Connor.

In his evidence Dr Adrian McGoldrick said that a Beta-blocker is medication used to control heart rate. He said it is banned in a number of sports. He referred to the WADA Guidelines on the therapeutic use of Beta-blockers in sports and noted that a therapeutic use exemption would rarely be given, if there is another method of addressing the medical condition.

With regard to the finding, Dr McGoldrick said that he would have sought the advice of an expert cardiologist before renewing Mr O’Connor’s licence had he been aware that Mr O’Connor was on the mediation. He said that no medical declaration had been made by Mr O’Connor at licence renewal time.

Dr McGoldrick said he noted the contents of a report from Mr O’Connor’s cardiologist with regard to his medical condition and that he is no longer on Beta-blockers as his medical condition has now been addressed. He said he only became aware that Mr O’Connor was on Beta-blockers following the positive test.

In his evidence Michael John O’Connor said he accepted the result of the A sample and did not request that the B sample be tested. He outlined the background to him being prescribed Beta-blockers and accepted that he did not declare their use at licence renewal time as he wasn’t aware he had to. He apologised for the omission.

Having considered the evidence the Committee found that Michael John O’Connor was in breach of Rule 277 and imposed a suspension of three months on him (commencing on 16th March 2016). They also ordered that he make a contribution of €250 towards the Turf Club’s costs. They accepted that the positive test result arose from medication which had been prescribed for Mr O’Connor and not for any other reason.

The case was presented by Paul Murtagh, Turf Club Stipendiary Steward.

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