By Jon Lees
GB: Champion jockey Oisin Murphy’s return to action from a three-month ban on Friday has been delayed because he has not completed all the tests required of riders suspended for drugs offences.
Murphy was due to ride at Lingfield on Friday and Chelmsford on Saturday, having served the sentence imposed last November by France Galop after he tested positive for metabolites of cocaine.
On Friday morning Murphy tweeted: “At 18.50 yesterday I was personally informed by the BHA due to an administrative error I will not be able to partner my rides at Lingfield today and Chelmsford on Saturday.
“I’m currently looking into this situation with the BHA and I plan to be back on the racetrack as soon as I possibly can. I apologise profusely to all the owners, trainers + supporters who I’m having to let down at such late notice. It’s 128 days since my last ride in the UK.”
The BHA explained that Murphy may have to wait a bit longer before he can start his 2021 campaign as he has more tests to undergo; Murphy responded that he had made himself available for testing and was up to date with the schedule so far.
A BHA spokesman said: “Prior to returning to riding from a suspension of this nature, jockeys may be required to complete a course of testing, alongside other requirements, in order for BHA’s chief medical adviser to confirm their safe return to race riding.
“On 22 February Mr Murphy contacted the BHA about his intended return to race riding. The BHA liaised with him and the PJA from this point onwards, including in regards to his testing requirements.
“On 2 March Mr Murphy was reminded of the requirements and that it is his responsibility to complete the necessary tests before a return to riding. As of 12 March Mr Murphy is only part way through his reinstatement testing, and he is therefore unable to ride at this point.
“Upon completion of the necessary processes satisfactorily, Mr Murphy will be able to return to riding.”
Murphy, champion jockey in the last two years, had been looking forward to returning to action and put behind him a difficult chapter in his career.
He strenuously denies taking the recreational drug and received a sentence shorter than the six-month ban usually imposed for similar offences in France after providing hair-test analysis and claiming that he had been contaminated by having sex with a person he later discovered to be a user.