Trainer gets six-month ban after horse fails drug test

horse race

Horse trainer Tony Martin has been banned for six months after a third horse he trained failed a drugs test. [Image:]

Repeat offenders

Horse trainer Tony Martin has had his license suspended for six months after his horse Firstman tested positive for lidocaine. Lidocaine is a local anesthetic used to prevent pain and is not allowed on race day.

Martin, whose sentence was suspended for two years, also received a fine of 11,000 euros ($12,040). The penalties were imposed due to an anti-doping rule violation during a race on Jan. 18. The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) Referral Panel, which concluded the investigation on November 27, told Martin that if there was another anti-doping violation he would be suspended after two years.

For the third time in four years

This is the third time in four years that a horse trained by Martin has tested positive for a banned substance. In 2019, Moonmeister was disqualified from a curragh after testing positive for a corticosteroid. In 2022, Patsy’s Honor was disqualified from a down royal bumper after testing positive for triamcinolone acetonide.

The results were negative

During the investigation, Martin suggested that the lidocaine may have been absorbed through the bedding at the track, an idea that was rejected by the panel. During an unannounced visit by the IHRB on February 1, none of the substance was found in Martin’s garden.

Two veterinarians had prescribed the anti-arthritic drug Cartrophen to Firstman

Martin also told investigators that Firstman had been prescribed the anti-arthritic drug Cartrophen the day before the race by two veterinarians, Edele Gray and Donncha Houlihan. However, it turned out that this was not the cause of the lidocaine in the post-race sample.

Hair and blood samples were taken from the nine horses, including Firstman, which all came back negative. According to Dr. Lynn Hillyer, head of the IHRB’s anti-doping department, said lidocaine administration should have occurred within hours of the sample being taken on race day.

The medication is still there a month later

In making its decision, the referral panel took into account Martin’s early admission and full cooperation. They also pointed out that revoking the horse trainer’s license was “likely to have a serious impact on his stable yard and put him at risk.”

Following Patsy’s Honor’s disqualification in 2022, Martin received a €1,750 ($1,915) fine. Despite a 34-day waiting period, the drug still showed up in the Patsy’s Honor sample.

Hillyer said there are several reasons why the drug is present in the horse a month after treatment. One reason for this was that the drug was not administered into the joint but into denser tissue.


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