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Turf Club ups drug tests after rise in offences.

TURF CLUB chief executive Denis Egan yesterday reported that the level of drug testing of jockeys in Ireland has been stepped up this year because of an increase in the number of positive tests, writes Tony O'Hehir.

Egan's comments follow the latest positive test, which resulted in apprentice Michael Enright being fined EUR300 at a hearing of the referrals committee on Tuesday after traces of the diuretic furosemide, a banned substance, were confirmed in a urine sample taken from the jockey at Naas on July 7. Egan said yesterday: "We started drug testing of jockeys in 2005 and, up to the end of 2008, only one jockey had tested positive. However, since February 2009 there has been a significant increase and we have had six positive tests.

"Three of those tests involved diuretics and the others involved traces of other drugs. Consequently, we have cranked up the number of tests. We were averaging 80 tests per year, but so far this year we have carried out 110 tests."

In his evidence during the Enright hearing, Dr Adrian McGoldrick, the Turf Club's chief medical officer, said: "Furosemide is a very potent diuretic which is used, among other things, for rapid weight loss. It is not performance-enhancing but can lead to acute dehydration and a fall in blood pressure."

A written submission from Tommy Stack, Enright's boss, was considered by the committee, while Enright accepted the findings of the 'A' sample and did not request for the 'B' sample to be tested. In addition to the fine, Enright must pay EUR250 towards the costs of the hearing.

In arriving at its decision, the committee expressed concern about the potential dangers to Enright's health due to the side effects of taking a diuretic, which include weakness and dizziness, and the risks they pose while race riding.

They also noted that Enright admitted that he knowingly broke the rules by taking a diuretic to ride at a low weight at Naas. In mitigation, they took into account that he had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Aug 12, 2010
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