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Mr. R. McLeigh (Banned Substance) – Leopardstown 2nd March 2020

The Referrals Committee, Justice Tony Hunt (in the chair) Mr. Anthony Byrne and Justice Leonie Reynolds convened remotely via Zoom on 28th October 2020 to consider a report from Catalonian Antidoping Laboratory, Barcelona, Spain, that a urine sample taken from Mr. R McLeigh (Rider) during in competition testing at Leopardstown on 2ndMarch 2020 was found to contain Benzoylecgonine (metabolite of cocaine).


Under the Rules of Racing and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules, benzoylecgonine is a banned substance because it acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system with addictive and hallucinogenic properties. It is prohibited in-competition pursuant to the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List International Standard as adopted by the IHRB.


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


Evidence was heard from Dr. Jennifer Pugh (Senior Medical Officer IHRB), Ross McLeigh and the committee also considered correspondence from Mr. Pat Brennan (Counsellor).


In her evidence, Dr. Pugh stated that her first dealings with Mr. McLeigh were following the notice of the adverse analytical finding from Leopardstown in March. She stated that delays in the process had ensued due to the Covid-19 pandemic but that Mr. McLeigh had immediately showed remorse for his actions and explained to her the details of this isolated incident. She added that Mr. McLeigh has shown a commitment to put this incident behind him and has tested negative following a number of subsequent tests and also engaged with Mr. Pat Brennan (Counsellor) for advice.


In his evidence, Mr. McLeigh explained the circumstances surrounding the adverse analytical finding and accepted that he had made an error of judgement during a difficult time in his personal life. Mr McLeigh gave details of his employment with Colin McBratney (Trainer) and also of work he carries out in the afternoons with his father who is a mechanic. He added that he voluntarily opted not to take any rides following the resumption of racing in the knowledge that he had tested positive for a banned substance.


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


In arriving at a penalty, they imposed a penalty of four years suspension of his licence with effect from 22nd June. In view of mitigating factors, early admissions and continued cooperation with Dr. Pugh, the Referrals Committee stated that they would review the matter again within one year should Mr. McLeigh wish to reapply to the committee for a review of the suspension.


The case was presented by Ms. Cliodhna Guy, Head of Legal, Licensing and Compliance. Mr. McLeigh was represented by Mr. Andrew Coonan of Coonan Cawley Solicitors, Naas, County Kildare.

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