Champion jockey Oisin Murphy banned for 14 months after Covid and alcohol breaches
The rider faced an independent judiciary panel on Tuesday in relation to breaking Covid protocols in September 2020, and two failed tests for alcohol in May and October of 2021 - as well as one charge of “acting in a manner which is prejudicial to the proper integrity, conduct and good reputation of the sport”.
Murphy, who did not contest any of the charges, was given three 11-month suspensions for the two Covid breaches and conduct prejudicial to the reputation of the sport, all to run concurrently, along with a £31,111 fine.
He was also given 10 days for an alcohol positive for his test at Chester on May 5 and a further 90 days for another positive recorded at Newmarket on October 8, meaning he can return to race-riding on February 16, 2023.
The panel, chaired by His Honour James O’Mahony who sat alongside Rachel Spearing and Anthony Connell, heard the BHA’s case first, put forward by Charlotte Davison.
She outlined a timeline of events from when Murphy went on holiday on September 9, 2020 to September 19. Murphy had gone to the Greek island of Mykonos, which was on the Covid red-list at the time, but he had attempted to convince officials he had been at Lake Como.
Davison said the three-times champion jockey was afforded several opportunities to come clean about the holiday to Mykonos but chose to continue to lie, including in video interviews and in online blogs. He also repeated the lie in a TV interview after a winner at Bath.
In handing out the punishment, O’Mahony said: “He’s a young man, a brilliant jockey and a superb horseman and we’re not here to criticise you for the sake of it, but to explain our reasons and apply the rules.
“But however affected by fiction that you may have been, we conclude you thought you were above the rules and the law. And however high you are, you are not above them. They apply to all.
“All you had to do was self-isolate as countless others had to do, but you embarked on a deception that was planned, carefully calculated and detailed and it was prolonged for a significant period of time.
“You had time to think ‘what am I doing?’ but you only put your hands up when you had your back against the wall.
“The lie began on September 17, 2020 to May 25, 2021 and then you reinforced the lie by giving elaborate details to the media making reference to the “Italian bulge”.
“In the period between September 13-26 you took 74 rides with significant winnings (11 winners) and we conclude that the breach of the second offence was aggravated by the advantage you gained in the jockeys’ championship”