Britain’s champion jockey Oisin Murphy has been banned for three months by French racing authorities after testing positive for metabolites of cocaine.
Murphy, who successfully defended his title this season, failed a test at Chantilly on July 19, having ridden The Lir Jet, owned by his bosses, Qatar Racing.
Having always strenuously denied taking any drugs, Murphy requested a B sample – and upon receiving the results, France Galop, the governing body of flat and steeplechase horse racing in France, held a hearing on Wednesday.
Murphy’s ban will run from December 11 until March 11.
In similar cases the punishment has been a six-month suspension, but the panel were persuaded by a combination of a hair sample and Murphy’s testimony that the positive test arose from an unintentional, environmental contamination.
Murphy has announced he will not appeal against the suspension, which ends before the Flat Turf season begins in Britain on March 27.
The suspension marks a temporary halt to the 25-year-old Irishman’s soaring career which has seen him rise to the top of his profession over the last few seasons.
His maiden title in 2019 was the icing on the cake for a career that has seen the Cork-born rider collect Group One victories around the world and also enjoy success on Australian tracks.
He was recently confirmed as champion jockey in Britain for the second time with 142 winners, topping the table on June 8 and never being headed.
In a statement issued through the Professional Jockeys Association on Friday, Murphy said: “I would like to thank France Galop and the panel of Commissioners for a fair hearing and for accepting the evidence I presented that I had not taken cocaine.
“This evidence included my hair sample results – the results of which I am making public today – and an expert witness statement from an eminent toxicology and anti-doping expert.
“Whilst I am obviously disappointed that I will still have to serve a three-month suspension, I am pleased the Commissioners accepted the evidence presented and am hugely relieved to have been cleared of taking cocaine.
“I respect the rules of France Galop, respect their decision and will not be appealing. Despite my relief, I regretfully put myself in a situation whereby cocaine has been able to filter into my system through environmental contamination and must live with the consequences.
“As a professional sportsman I cannot put myself in a similar situation again.
“The next three months will give me much time to reflect on my actions, but I will learn from this experience and come back better and even more determined than before.”