Gibbons takes leave of absence after sample allegations

Graham Gibbons has been accused of swapping his urine sample

PICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos) Gibbons takes leave of absence after allegations
By Alex Wiltshire 4:30pM 8 DEC 2016

GRAHAM GIBBONS has voluntarily stood himself down after an investigation was launched into an incident at Kempton on Wednesday, where it was alleged that he substituted a urine sample he was required to provide with one from fellow rider Callum Shepherd.

A statement released on Thursday afternoon from PJA chief executive Paul Struthers, who was present at Kempton, read: "Callum made a serious error of judgement but to his credit very quickly took steps to correct that error, which ultimately led to the resulting Stewards Enquiry into the matter, to which he gave candid evidence."

"The PJA can also confirm that Graham Gibbons has voluntarily stood himself down with immediate, indefinite effect. The PJA is in touch with both jockeys and will provide all necessary support. They have been assigned legal representation and will co-operate fully with the investigation."

The Yorkshire-based Gibbons, 35, is just five winners away from equalling his best annual total of 98 three years ago after 16 years with a licence.

Shepherd, one of the rising stars in the apprentice ranks, also had one ride on the card, finishing 11th on the Graeme McPherson-trained Harry Hunt in the 7.15, after three rides at Lingfield earlier in the day

Shepherd, who started with Charlie Hills two years ago and rode one winner in 2014, enjoyed a purple patch last month with 11 winners, nine coming in 11 days including three on the Phil McEntee-trained veteran Swiss Cross.

The teenager has ridden 39 winners this year which included riding out his 5lb claim for reaching 50 career winners.

Investigation ongoing

Gibbons, who is leading the all-weather jockeys' championship with 20 wins, had ridden the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Button Up to finish sixth in the 5.15 at Kempton on Wednesday evening, his only ride on the card, after which he was required to provide the sample.

The BHA confirmed on Thursday morning that Gibbons had subsequently given another urine sample which will be sent away for testing ahead of any inquiry.

Robin Mounsey, BHA head of media, said: "The BHA cannot comment further regarding the incident at present as it is now an ongoing investigation. However, this is clearly an issue that we are taking very seriously and we will be taking the necessary steps to progress this matter with urgency."

Tests on the up

The Kempton stewards' report on the BHA website read: "The stewards held an inquiry following a report from the clerk of the scales that Graham Gibbons, the rider of Button Up, had substituted the urine sample that he was required to produce with that of another rider, Callum Shepherd.

"Having heard evidence from the sampling officer, Graham Gibbons, Callum Shepherd, Paul Struthers, the chief executive of the PJA who accompanied Shepherd, and a valet, they forwarded a report to the head office of the British Horseracing Authority for further consideration."

The BHA has increased its breath-test and urine sampling of jockeys this year after taking over 1,000 breath tests in 2015 and 300 urine samples.

It is expected those numbers will be double for 2016 with the testing unit breath-testing all jockeys at a meeting before their first ride and then randomly selecting ten riders for urine tests.

There was one breath-test positive and three positive urine test in 2015.

    Read More at Racing Post

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