Amateur Luke McGuinness banned until 2026 after third positive cocaine test | Horse Racing News

Patrick McCann

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Luke McGuinness: rider's sample was found to contain a metabolite of cocaine

Luke McGuinness: rider’s sample was found to contain a metabolite of cocaine

Patrick McCann

Luke McGuinness has tested positive for cocaine for a third time and cannot reapply for his license until 2026, while two other Irish-based riders have also received drug bans from a referrals committee of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board.

McGuinness was tested at Limerick on December 27, where he rode favorite Happy Victory to finish fourth in the concluding bumper, and the sample was found to contain a metabolite of cocaine. He did not request a B sample.

The amateur rider only reapplied for his license in December having returned a positive test at a point-to-point fixture in January of 2020. He was handed a six-year suspension for that, a second offense but, having complied with strict terms and conditions, he was allowed to return to the saddle in December.

This third positive sample means McGuinness will now serve a four-year suspension from January 21 of this year to the same date in 2026 when he will be allowed to reapply for his license.

McGuinness’ case was heard by a referrals committee on April 11, which consisted of Tony Hunt (chairman), Nicholas Wachman and Laurence McFerran.

Hunt said: “This is unfortunately a third offense and, in relation to the balance of four years which is outstanding, we feel we have no option but to activate the outstanding period beginning from January 21 which is when Mr. McGuinness was notified of this finding.

“Having activated the previous sanction, we now have to address the new breach and are imposing a consecutive penalty so on the expiration of this current four years there will be a further suspension of four years.

“However, because of the timeframe involved and with the hope that Mr. McGuinness may have addressed matters fully by the end of the initial four years, he will be entitled to make an application to the Referrals Committee, once he has completed this current four year suspension, to either in whole or in part have that new penalty suspended based on whatever plan and proposal is drawn up with the assistance of Dr. Pugh [IHRB chief medical officer]Mr Brennan [counsellor] or their respective successors at that particular time.”

McGuinness has ridden 15 winners in Ireland and two in Britain. His best season was in 2016/17 when he rode nine winners from 69 rides. He won a bumper on subsequent dual Grade 1 winner The Storyteller at Downpatrick in May of 2016.

Liam Quinlan also tested positive for cocaine, his positive sample taken at Limerick on November 16 of last year. He did not request a B sample either and, back in November of 2019, he also failed to submit a doping control test as requested.

He was handed a one-year suspension for the offense in 2019 and four years for the positive test returned last year. The last four years of those five will be suspended subject to conditions and the panel would be prepared to look favorably at reviewing the suspension after nine months.

Quinlan has ridden 26 career winners, ten of which for trainer John Ryan who gave evidence at the hearing and provided the panel with the background to the rider’s employment and the work he carries out on a daily basis.

In her evidence, Pugh said Quinlan had first come to her attention following the referral in 2019. She stated there were mitigating circumstances at that time and Quinlan had fully complied with conditions set out by her in the subsequent months.

Paul Lake was another to test positive for cocaine, the sample taken at Fairyhouse on November 9 of last year.

He was handed a four-year suspension but the last three years will be suspended once he continues to engage positively with Pugh and Brennan.

The day Lake was tested at Fairyhouse was his only ride under Rules in his career. I have finished fifth on the Conor O’Dwyer-trained Emir De Rots in a handicap hurdle.

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