By Andrew Atkinson
Three-time Champion Flat jockey Oisin Murphy has been banned until February 2023, after accepting he was guilty of five charges brought against him by the BHA.
An independent judicial panel on February 22 ruled Murphy will not be able to re-apply for his riding licence for 14 months, backdated to December 8, with 11 months handed out for Covid breaches and conduct prejudicial to the sport’s reputation.
An additional 100 days ban was for two positive alcohol tests.
The panel was told about what its chairman later described as the web of deceit Murphy created – with a trip to the Greek island of Mykonos in September 2020.
Murphy did not self-isolate – as required – and returned to race-riding.
Murphy described how the effect of the dual pressures of the jockeys’ championship and the BHA’s investigation into his breaking of Covid protocols lead to his drinking spiralling out of control.
Murphy appeared at High Holborn to face two charges in relation to breaking Covid protocols in September 2020, and two failed tests for alcohol in May and October of 2021.
Also one overarching charge of acting in a manner which is prejudicial to the proper integrity, conduct and good reputation of the sport.
Murphy was given three 11-month suspensions for the two Covid breaches and conduct prejudicial to the reputation of the sport, all to run concurrently.
He was also fined £31,111, and given 10 days for what amounted to a second alcohol positive, for his test at Chester on May 5, and a further 90 days for his third such positive recorded at Newmarket on October 8, totalling an additional 100 days.
Murphy, who can return to race-riding on February 16, 2023, did not contest any of the charges.
Murphy said he now had his alcohol problem under control after seeking professional help.
Charlotte Davison, the barrister presenting the BHA’s case, outlined in great detail an elaborate succession of lies told by Murphy around what she referred to as ‘the Mykonos matter’.
That revolved around a trip to Mykonos – from September 9 to September 13 in 2020 – that Murphy took while banned.
The day before he left, Greece was added to the Covid-19 red list, and upon his return Murphy did not self-isolate for 14 days, returning to race-riding.
Murphy also accepted he continued to lie about the matter when asked further questions by the BHA until admitting he was indeed in Mykonos, providing details on May 25, 2021.
James O’Mahony, who chaired the panel that was also made up of Rachel Spearing and Anthony Connell, described it as ‘a web of deceit to support his original lie’.
The second element of the hearing focused on two failed tests for alcohol. A urine test at Chester on May 5, 2021 and a breathalyser at Newmarket on October 8.
Murphy accepted his drinking had become a growing problem in recent years and spoke about the pressure he felt under and his reliance on alcohol as a coping mechanism.
Murphy has spoken of how the pressures of his cocaine positive in France, his Covid-protocol violations and his alcohol positives in the UK, along with the daily grind of pursuing the jockeys’ championship for four consecutive years, all contributed to him reaching a point where he was using alcohol to black out every night of Glorious Goodwood week.
Also drinking vodka and lemonade in the car on the way home from Chelmsford.
“I can’t go back in time but they were grave errors”, Murphy said.
“I was riding out in the morning and then drinking, I’d open a bottle of wine and almost always finish it.
“I had nothing to do and knew the BHA were on to me about Mykonos,” he said.
Following Murphy returning to race-riding, he said: “I would go home, watch replays alone and drink a bottle of wine or some vodka.
“It suddenly dawned on me I had a reliance on alcohol. I felt it enabled me to mix with anyone socially, or to get to sleep at night. The Sunday after Goodwood I realised I’d blacked out every night. I knew it was an issue.
“In the evening I could be capable of drinking one glass of wine or ten, and it took me until then to realise my methods of dealing with pressure and reliance on alcohol.
“My drinking had become out of control. I have caused a great amount of damage to my reputation along the way.
“I couldn’t undo the past and that initial lie led to all that deceit. Now I’m sober I don’t think I would have made those mistakes. I can’t go back in time but they were grave errors.
“I admit to all the breaches, I just wish I could have dealt with them better.”
On the ban verdict it was concluded Murphy thought he was above the rules.
Murphy, 26, surrendered his licence on December 8, 2021 to focus on his rehabilitation and has not race-ridden since.
The panel declared Murphy ineligible to re-apply for the enforced time period.
Caption: Oisin Murphy: Banned until February 2023 after being guilty of five charges brought against him by BHA.