23 May 2011

Cannabis tokes its toll on racing with latest drug-use bans

Racing Victoria stewards suspended registered stable employees Gary Preston and James Ryan from riding track-work for 2-years  and 8 months respectively, after a urine samples provided at Bendigo on April 11 "showed the presence of banned substances d-methamphetamines and; 11-Nor-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid (cannabis)". In assessing penalties, stewards took into account the guilty pleas and "poor record in this area" of both.
The suspensions continue the run of stories linking wacky-tabacky to the racing game:
  • In April 2011, two Casino (NSW) trackwork riders were "banned for three months after testing positive to cannabis. Anthony Townsend, who is also a trainer, and his friend Jason Cumming pleaded guilty at a stewards’ inquiry.
  • Cannabis cultivation looms large in the ongoing investigation over the murder in February 2011 in Melbourne of one-time trainer and prominent racehorse owner, Les Samba.
  • In January 2011, "racing mogul Lord Derby was in shock after a cannabis factory was found on one of his farms. Police swooped on sprawling Hatchfield Farm, in Newmarket, Suffolk, and discovered a drugs factory with 87 cannabis plants."
  • In November 2010, "Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Jim Cassidy has been suspended from riding for three months after testing positive for cannabis. Cassidy... pleaded guilty to providing a sample containing a banned substance after riding at Warwick Farm near Sydney on October 4." Cassidy blamed his "bad knees" for the indiscretion.

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