Racing Queensland has fired back in regards to an article published earlier in the week implying that nearly a third of Queensland jockeys were regular drug users.
The story, first seen in the Sunday Mail on August 28, features comments from former racing licensee Michael Jackson which if proved true would be disastrous for the racing industry.
Extracts from the article include that “racing is rife with drugs” and “if they went through 100 per cent of the jockeys every Monday morning, they’d get close to 30 per cent”.
These are claims strongly refuted by the director of integrity operations for Racing Queensland Jamie Orchard who says they are completely baseless.
“The men and women who ride in races are professional athletes engaging in an inherently dangerous sport,” he said.
“As a group they are conscious of the dangers illicit drugs would pose both to themselves and to their fellow riders and therefore tend to stay right away from them.
“Nonetheless, RQL has in place a stringent drug testing program which sees riders tested somewhere in the state every week. RQL performs unannounced testing at race meetings and track work sessions and the results have never been anywhere near those levels suggested by the former licensee quoted in the article.
“Interestingly, jockeys themselves support the rigorous drug testing program, as inconvenient as it might be for them when they are preparing to race, and this is a clear indication that jockeys as a group share the views of RQL that illicit drugs have no place amongst the professional athletes in our sport.”
His words were reiterated by Glen Prentice, the president of the Queensland Jockeys Association.
“The QJA and all Queensland jockeys fully support Racing Queensland’s stringent drug testing program and acknowledge that the baseless comments by a former licensee are unfounded due to the level of testing jockeys are subjected to in Queensland,” he said.
“Racing Queensland and the Jockeys Association work hard making all riders aware of their obligations in relation to banned substances.”
As yet there has been no response from either Michael Jackson or the Sunday Mail.