Jockey ‘more than 50 times limit for cocaine’ as new drugs tests planned

A jockey who was more than 50 times over the limit for cocaine when tested before racing has had his licence withdrawn.

Philip Prince admitted the offence and told investigators he used the drug several times a week.

The rider appeared before a British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel on Thursday from a rehabilitation centre.

He had previously agreed to breaching Rule (K)49, which states jockeys must ensure that no banned substance is present in their body.

Tomas Nolan, representing the BHA, said a urine sample was taken from Prince on November 16 2020, while he was at Wolverhampton Racecourse.

It subsequently tested positive for the banned substance benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine.

The results of the hearing come as the BHA has announced plans for a pilot programme to assess the use of saliva testing on racedays.

Oral swabs would provide a near-instant indication as to whether substances are present in a rider’s system, above the existing thresholds.

"The level of benzoylecgonine identified in the sample provided by Mr Prince was 8,450 nanograms per millilitre," said Mr Nolan.

Prince had his licence provisionally suspended and was interviewed by the BHA over Zoom on December 9.

Mr Nolan said the rider described how he took cocaine "three to four times a week."

"He stated that he used the drug as a pick-me-up, something which can lift his mood," Mr Nolan added.

Prince told investigators that he believed he started taking it around the time of a Christmas party in 2019.

Chairman of the panel, David Fish QC, asked Nolan if he was correct in thinking the threshold for jockeys was 150 nanograms per millilitre.

"Yes it's over 50 times the limit sir (Prince's sample)," said Mr Nolan.

Rory Mac Neice, representing Prince, told panel members his client wished to apologise "unreservedly" for his actions.

He said the rider, who has had 69 winners on the Flat since 2009, was in the middle of a six-week rehabilitation course supported by the Professional Jockeys' Association.

"Mr Prince accepts the result of the analysis of his sample. He made full and frank admissions at the earliest opportunity to the BHA and has fully cooperated with the BHA investigation," said Mr Mac Neice.

Panel members were sent a letter of support from his employer, which described his work ethic and bond with horses.

Mr Fish QC said they had made the decision to withdraw Prince's licence for six months – and the interim suspension from November 20 will count towards it.

The chairman said members were "impressed" with his co-operation during the disciplinary process and "courage" for addressing his problems.

Back in 2009, it was reported Prince, who was born with one ear and a jaw defect, initially had his request for a jockeys' licence rejected by the BHA.

This was on the advice of their Medical Review Panel, but he persevered and further hearings led to the decision being overturned.

Should the BHA's testing pilot prove successful, racing would become the first major sport in Britain to utilise on-the-day screening for banned substances through oral swabs.

Brant Dunshea, Chief Regulatory Officer for the BHA, said: “This is an exciting and innovative proposal which could have a huge impact on our ability to protect the sport against individuals who are competing while under the influence of prohibited substances. "We are pleased to be working with the PJA on its development.

“We hope that the use of on-the-day screening, alongside increased testing capacity, will provide greater deterrent to potential offenders and greater reassurance to riders that they are competing in a safe environment, should the pilot be successful.”

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