Apprentice Star UK suspended for cocaine positive
Apprentice star Benoit de la Sayette has expressed deep regret that he let himself down and his employer John Gosden after being suspended by the BHA pending a disciplinary investigation into a positive test for cocaine .
The 18-year-old has made a major impression since turning pro last year and rose to prominence as Unibet Lincoln landed on Gosden-formed Haqeeqy last month.
But a hair sample commissioned by the BHA following the release of a video on social media implicating his recreational drug use returned a positive result for cocaine metabolites and, while De La Sayette maintains that he did not take cocaine on this occasion, he admitted that he had not been as open as he should have been during his initial questioning.
In a statement released through the Professional Jockeys Association, De La Sayette said, “I cannot apologize enough for my actions, both in relation to taking cocaine and in deceiving those who m ‘surround. Earlier this year, I returned home to live with my parents. in order to get away from an environment where he was present.
“There are no excuses and I am sorry I let down my family, the Clarehaven Stables team, Mr. Gosden and my colleagues in the weigh room.”
When the video began circulating in the Lincoln’s wake, the PJA strongly denied any cocaine use based on what De La Sayette told them at the time.
Explaining the chain of events, a PJA statement said: “Last month a film circulated claiming to show Benoit de la Sayette at a party in the presence of cocaine following the victory aboard Haqeeqy in the Unibet. Lincoln in Doncaster on Saturday, March 27. The PJA issued a statement on behalf of Benoit denying the allegation and confirming that he was not taking or taking cocaine.
“Subsequently, the British Horseracing Authority arranged to take urine and hair samples from Benoit’s home on Wednesday March 31. The urine sample returned negative the same day the test was administered, but on Friday evening, Benoit was informed by the BHA that the hair sample had returned positive for cocaine metabolites.
“Benoit has now admitted that he had previously taken cocaine and was not initially as open as he should have been with his relatives and has informed him. He maintains that the video released date of October 2019, that he did not take cocaine on this occasion and did not do so after winning the Lincoln.
“Benoit was due to ride at Brighton on Saturday and withdrew from the ride, and agreed not to accept any further races. He was subsequently informed by the BHA that he is now suspended from riding pending the conclusion of the disciplinary process, with which he will cooperate fully. “
PJA Managing Director Paul Struthers and Gosden are committed to continuing to support De La Sayette and underlined his youth.
“Benoit is a very young man who was only 18 in December 2020,” Struthers said. “He made mistakes but the PJA will continue to support him throughout the process.”
Gosden told the Racing Post: “Benoit is a teenager and I will support him appropriately during this time.”
De La Sayette made an eye-catching start to his career with 12 winners in 49 races, topped by his Lincoln success over Haqeeqy.
He had been a leading rider in pony racing in France and Britain before joining John Gosden last year, when he became the trainer’s first apprentice for 29 years. He described his victory at Lincoln as “a dream come true, a fairy tale”.
The fact that he did not test positive in competition is irrelevant when it comes to racing rules in Britain.
Rule K (49) states that: “A jockey must ensure that no prohibited substance is present in his body”, while K (50) adds: “It is not necessary to demonstrate an intention, fault, negligence or willful use to establish a breach of rule K (49). “
The use of hair tests as an additional means of detecting banned substances is a relatively recent development and is considered by many experts to be useful in determining whether a person has used a drug earlier in time than is the case with urine tests, which tend to be ineffective after about 72 hours.
Several jockeys contesting a positive urine test have used hair tests in an attempt to prove that they are not “habitual” drug users and therefore may have been victims of contamination.
Although there is no set time limit for the use of hair tests, a reference to a three-month period has been made in evidence in a number of hearings involving jockeys in Great Britain. Brittany and France. The standard entry-level sanction for a first positive cocaine test is a six-month suspension of the jockey’s license.
The question now arises as to whether De La Sayette’s omissions, initially questioned about the video, will come back to haunt him.
Any hearing by an independent disciplinary committee will judge the case only on the merits of a breach of the rule in question. However, the committee has the discretion to take into account mitigating factors when it comes to imposing a particular sanction.