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Tom Joseph Kelly (Rider) – Banned Substance Killarney 15th July 2021

The Referrals Committee, Mr. Justice Tony Hunt (in the chair), Ms. Justice Leonie Reynolds and Mr. Anthony Byrne convened via Zoom on Monday, 13th December 2021 to consider a report from Laboratori Antidopatge de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain, that a urine sample take from Tom Kelly (Rider) during in competition testing at Killarney on 15thJuly 2021 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. Kelly did not request the ‘B’ sample to be analysed.

Evidence was heard from Mr. Kelly, Dr. Jennifer Pugh (IHRB Senior Medical Officer) and Mr. Enda Bolger (Trainer).

In his evidence, Mr. Kelly accepted the finding of the laboratory and explained that he had been on a night out during which he had refused the offer of cocaine but stated that it was being taken in his company. He stated that he has no recollection of taking cocaine but accepted that with the consumption of alcohol and peer pressure from those around him that he must have dropped his guard later in the evening. He said that he had never before or since taken any type of drugs and that he wasn’t aware of the consequences, but this was a mistake he would regret for some time and apologised for letting his family, employer and the sport of racing down.

In her evidence, Dr. Pugh stated that Mr. Kelly was not on her radar for any reason prior to the result of this test and that she had found him to be very honest and open from her first engagement with him. She said while he had no recollection of taking any drugs, he didn’t contest that he did take some but following a number of meetings with Mr. Pat Brennan, Addiction Counsellor, this was deemed to be one of recreational use rather than a habit.

In his evidence, Mr. Bolger described Mr. Kelly as a brilliant horseman and a brilliant worker who never gave any problems during his time working for him. Mr. Bolger said that he would be backing Mr. Kelly 100 per cent in the future as this was very uncharacteristic of him. 

Having considered the evidence, the Referrals Committee accepted the guilty plea and confirmed the breach of Rule 277(i). The decision read out by Mr. Justice Tony Hunt on behalf of the panel read:

“We have to impose a lengthy suspension but in doing that we accept that this was a once off and we accept that you have approached the case very fairly and you haven’t created any difficulties, and this was a one-off situation. We are imposing a suspension of four years, beginning from the 22nd August 2021. We have taken the approach that if you cooperate with Dr. Pugh and do whatever has to be done under her guidance and that of Mr. Brennan if required by Dr. Pugh, between now and 22nd August 2022 we will be in a position to consider a review for partial suspension of the penalty with effect from that date.”

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

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