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What Next for Oisin Murphy After Drugs Ban?

Posted on December 04, 2020 by Magdalena Rapala

The news must have come like a tonne of bricks for Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy. A three-month ban from racing, due to testing positive for cocaine, has thrown his 2020-21 season into jeopardy and sent shockwaves through the sport of horse racing.

An investigation into the positive test found that Murphy had not taken cocaine himself, but had had relations with a woman whom it was discovered was an occasional cocaine user. As a result, the ban was for three months, when previously riders have been given six-month suspensions for similar offences.

“I am pleased the commissioners accepted the evidence presented and am hugely relieved to have been cleared of taking cocaine,” Murphy said. “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.”

It’s a disappointing setback for the 25-year-old jockey, who has enjoyed a fine blossoming career in the sport over the last few years. Murphy’s 142 winners in 2020 was enough to claim Champion Jockey for a second year running, having also earned the accolade with 160 winners in 2019, and he is a frequent favourite on the betting exchange sites. For a rider of such immense quality, it’s a shame to see his young career stalling as a result of this kind of controversy.

In a way, his ban comes at a time when it may not fully ruin his chances of winning Champions Jockey for a third year running, given the fact that it is currently the flat racing off-season. But it will still be a serious dent in his bid to make it a hat-trick of Champion Jockey triumphs, and perhaps more significantly than that, it will damage his reputation within the sport.

Murphy has been flat racing’s golden boy ever since he burst onto the scene in Ireland, but controversy has followed him along the way. Before this latest setback, Murphy was forced to miss a day’s racing back in June 2019 after he failed an alcohol breath test, with the result recording that he was under the legal drink-driving limit, but over the limit for horse racing.

“It was my fault,” Murphy said of that mistake. “Everyone was really supportive. But it was so embarrassing. Even now I’m ashamed of it.”

Unfortunately a similar situation has sprung up once again, and this time the ramifications for Murphy are more severe. Professional sport can be a world of fickleness and fleeting opportunities. Yesterday’s star can often become today’s has-been, and Murphy will need to prove that after his ban he still has the qualities necessary to prove that he can be Champion Jockey once again.

It must be remembered that he is still young. At 25, Murphy is still learning his trade, making mistakes, learning from them, and growing as both a jockey and a person. It’s a shame to see a setback such as this damage his career, but it will be another learning experience and something he will be sure to avoid in future.

He added: “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.”

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