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Robert Murphy (Trainer) Prohibited Substance Referral – Punchestown 15th January 2020

The Referrals Committee, Justice Tony Hunt, (in the chair), Mr. Peter M. Allen and Mr. Peter N. Reynolds convened at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Blanchardstown, Co. Dublin on 17th August 2020 to consider whether or not Robert Murphy (Trainer) was in breach of any rules as a result of a report received from LGC Laboratories, Fordham, UK.

The report stated that the urine sample taken from Darrens Hope (IRE) following her win in the Ladbrokes Mares Maiden Hurdle at Punchestown on 15th January 2020, was found to contain boldenone sulphate. Under Rule 20 (v) and Regulation R14 of the Rules of Racing and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules boldenone is a substance prohibited at all times.

The B sample was not analysed.

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

In her evidence, Dr. Hillyer summarised the investigation into the adverse analytical finding. She confirmed that boldenone is an androgenic anabolic steroid which metabolises to boldenone sulphate. Details of a Without Notice Inspection at Mr. Murphy’s premises were provided and Dr. Hillyer confirmed that samples taken from Darrens Hope (IRE) and a companion horse were taken for analysis as well as additional samples from six other products.  Samples were also taken from Darrens Hope (IRE) when she ran subsequent to the inspection and all samples other than sample taken at Punchestown on 15th January 2020 returned negative results for boldenone/boldenone sulphate. Dr. Hillyer stated that she had commissioned an expert report from Dr. James Scarth, Head of Animal Sports Testing at LGC. She explained that Dr. Scarth’s report offered three possible scenarios for findings of boldenone as in this case.  She went on to state that, given the results of all the analysis and evidence in this particular case, it was the IHRB’s view that the most likely explanation for the boldenone sulphate finding in the sample taken from Darrens Hope (IRE) was as a result of natural (endogenous) processes in the animal.. She explained that this is an area currently under expert scientific scrutiny and views may be revised in due course but at present, in the opinion of the IHRB, any benefit of doubt should fall to the trainer.

In his evidence, Mr. Murphy accepted the finding. He outlined that he had wished to have the B sample analysed but confirmed he had missed the deadline for this having failed to respond to IHRB communication by email and registered post. He expressed his gratitude at the extent of the investigation carried out by the IHRB.

Having considered the evidence, the Committee were satisfied that Mr. Murphy was in breach of Regulation 96(c) as a substance prohibited at all times was present in the sample taken from the horse. They disqualified Darrens Hope (IRE) ordered that the stake be forfeited and amended the result to read as follows:

First:        Et Dite (FR)

Second:   Fort Worth Texas (IRE)

Third:      Commander Lady (IRE)

Fourth:    Regina Dracones (IRE)

Fifth:       Samsara Lady (IRE)

Sixth:      Aurora Sunrise (IRE)

The Committee noted the scenario referred to in Dr. Scarth’s report and found that it was beyond probable that there was no personal culpability on Mr. Murphy and the adverse analytical finding was as the result of an unfortunate natural physiological occurrence in Darrens Hope (IRE). They therefore imposed no fine on Mr. Murphy.

The case was presented by Cliodhna Guy, Head of Legal, Licensing & Compliance. Mr. Murphy was represented by Kieran O’Connell of Joseph P. Gordon & Co Solicitors, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford.


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