Former champion jockey Oisin Murphy, who was banned for 14 months by the British Horseracing Authority for COVID and alcohol-related breaches, is preparing to return to the saddle. During his ban, Murphy was open about his struggles with alcoholism and often served as a racing analyst on live broadcasts during major race meets.
A statement released by the BHA on Tuesday, Feb. 7, revealed the conditions under which Murphy will be allowed to return.
“While the full conditions will not be made public, they include the need for Mr. Murphy to remain sober and avoid the use of any illicit substances or social drugs,” the BHA statement explains. “To monitor this, Mr. Murphy will be subject to an enhanced testing regime both on the racecourse, and through the providing of hair samples for analysis at random times of the BHA’s choosing.
“Mr. Murphy must also engage in regular contact, through his own medical professionals, with (BHA’s Chief Medical Advisor) Dr. Jerry Hill to ensure his ongoing fitness to ride. These conditions will be reviewed after 12 months, as well as being subject to alteration or amendment should the BHA consider this necessary during the course of his license.
“The BHA is grateful for Mr. Murphy’s professional approach during what has been an extensive process and wishes him well both on his return to racing and with regards to his personal wellbeing.”
The BHA retains the right to suspend Murphy’s license if any of the conditions are not met.
Murphy’s first big-race rides since his suspension are expected to come on the Saudi Cup card: he has been named to ride Royal Ascot winner Missed The Cut in the Neom Turf Cup.
At the end of 2021, following a season that saw him crowned champion jockey for a third straight year, Murphy relinquished his license voluntarily in order to focus on his rehabilitation. He was sentenced to a 14-month ban after a BHA disciplinary hearing on Feb. 22, 2022.
His rules breaches were as follows:
- Rule (J)24.6 on two occasions (Sept. 17, 2020, and Feb. 12, 2021) by misleading or attempting to mislead the BHA or one of its employees regarding the destination of his travel in order to circumvent Coronavirus (‘Covid’) restrictions;
- Rule (J)24 by failing to comply with the BHA’s COVID-19 Requirements, by:
- deliberately misleading BHA Officials by providing incorrect information to access multiple racecourses between Sept. 13 and 26 of 2020 and
- entering racecourses whilst in breach of Government requirements relating to self-isolation between Sept. 13 and 26 of 2020 failing to comply with Government requirements and Racecourse Terms of Condition and Entry contrary to Rule (J)24.4
- Rule (J)19 by acting in a manner which is prejudicial to the proper integrity, conduct or good reputation of the sport, by:
- on or around Sept. 16, 2020 accessing the licensed training premises of Andrew Balding and engaging in work duties for him, despite being legally required to self-isolate; and
- between Sept. 11 and 18 of 2020 providing a false version of events during media commitments regarding his true location between Sept. 9 and 12, 2020.
- Rule (K)55 (Alcohol) due to the presence of alcohol above the threshold level of 54 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine in a sample collected from Mr. MURPHY at Chester racecourse on May 5, 2021;
- Rule (K)55 (Alcohol) due to the presence of alcohol above the threshold level of 17 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath in a sample collected from Mr. MURPHY at Newmarket Racecourse on Oct. 8, 2021.