Oisin Murphy Banned Until 2023

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Oisin Murphy | racingfotos.com

Oisin Murphy has been banned 11 months for breaching Covid rules in September 2020, and must serve an additional 100 days for two alcohol breaches. He has also been fined £31,111. The three-time champion jockey, therefore, will not be eligible to ride again until Feb. 16, 2023. The bans have been backdated to Dec. 8, the day that Murphy handed in his license while announcing he was seeking professional help when the breaches were revealed.

In a Tuesday hearing, the 26-year-old Murphy admitted to all five charges brought against him by the British Horseracing Authority, which included breaking Covid rules, misleading the BHA, prejudicial conduct and two alcohol breaches. The Covid breach was a result of Murphy attempting to circumvent quarantine by being untruthful about a vacation to the Greek island Mykonos from Sept. 9 to Sept. 19, 2020. Mykonos was at the time on Britain's Covid red list, and Murphy told officials he had been at Lake Como.

The alcohol charges were a result of Murphy failing breath tests last year at Chester on May 5 and at Newmarket on Oct. 8. The initial alcohol infraction resulted in a 10-day ban, with an additional 90 days for the second charge.

Murphy's 2021 mounts included Alcohol Free (Ire) (No Nay Never), winner of the G1 Coronation S. and G1 Sussex S. He also took the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac aboard Zellie (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}), and the GI Breeders' Cup Distaff with Japan's Marche Lorraine (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}).

Murphy indicated on Tuesday that has gotten sober since handing in his license.

“I couldn't undo the lies and deceit,” he said. “Now that I'm sober I'm a different person and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have made those errors sober, but I can't go back in time and I'm afraid they were grave issues. I dealt with success and failure the same. Drink was the rock I perished on. People had told me this could happen but I failed to avoid it and fell into the trap.

“The day I picked up the championship trophy there was no element of joy in it for me. I admit all the breaches and just wish I could have dealt with them better.”

The disciplinary panel was chaired by His Honour James O'Mahony, who said in handing down the punishment, “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 Sept. 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.”

Murphy has been employed as first-call rider to Qatar Racing, which said through spokesman Johnno Spence, “We are going to take some time to reflect on the outcome and obviously talk to the team, and will probably make a statement tomorrow.”

The BHA said in a statement, “We would like to thank the independent Disciplinary Panel for their careful consideration of the various complex and unique matters which were covered at this hearing. Mr Murphy's breaches of the Rules were extremely serious, reckless and potentially incredibly damaging for the sport. They risked endangering his fellow jockeys and racing industry participants. The BHA is proud of the way the industry adapted to the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and how racing was able to restart quickly and successfully behind closed doors. Mr Murphy's actions put this at risk. They also occurred at a time when so many people were making great sacrifices to follow the rules and protocols set out by the British Governments and the racing industry. Mr Murphy also acted with pre-meditation to deceive the racing industry and public regarding his whereabouts, as well as BHA investigators.

“In their summing up, the independent Panel stated that Mr Murphy's conduct was unworthy of a sportsman and previous champion, and he had let down his colleagues and the sport. We would, however, also acknowledge that Mr Murphy later made full, public admissions regarding these offences, and did not seek to contest the rule breaches at today's hearing. He also gave full and frank admissions regarding his personal battles. All of these matters were considered by the independent Panel in their decisions regarding a penalty for Mr Murphy.

“While it is important that this penalty is served and Mr Murphy's offences are seen to be acted upon, we would also call on everyone in the sport to respect the admissions that he has made about his physical and mental wellbeing and his need for rehabilitation. The BHA will offer any support that Mr Murphy requests in this ongoing process. As with many elite sportspeople, the pressures on jockeys can be significant. We would urge anyone in the racing industry who has suffered from any of the issues outlined by Mr Murphy in the hearing, or who knows of anyone who is struggling, to contact the various support structures that are in place in British racing. These include Racing Welfare, representative bodies such as the PJA, NTF and NARS, the sport's anonymous RaceWISE reporting line, or the BHA.”

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