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    Jockey Controversy at Southwell
Jockey Controversy at Southwell
Kieran O’Neill by Healy Racing

Jockey Controversy at Southwell

O'Neill returns to racing but is left seething over the controversial testing episode. 

British jockey Kieran O’Neill faced a setback at Southwell on Tuesday evening when he was prevented from participating in his scheduled races. The British Horseracing Authority's trial of saliva and sweat testing was thrust into the spotlight due to this incident.

O’Neill, who had three rides lined up for the Nottinghamshire track’s evening meeting, was sidelined by the BHA following a failed saliva test. Despite a subsequent negative urine test, O’Neill expressed his frustration on social media, feeling that his reputation had been unfairly tarnished.

In an interview with Sky Sports Racing, O’Neill vehemently defended his innocence, stating that he has always been against drugs and has nothing to hide. He highlighted the embarrassment of being unable to ride and the impact on his career, emphasising the need for swift resolution to such testing discrepancies.

This incident comes on the heels of a previous false-positive test by jockey Sean Levey, leading to questions about the accuracy and reliability of the testing procedures. O’Neill, echoing Levey’s concerns, called for a thorough investigation to address these issues.

The Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) expressed surprise at the introduction of the new testing trial and called for its suspension pending further inquiry. They emphasised the importance of clear communication and proper protocol in such testing processes to avoid unjust repercussions for jockeys.

The BHA defended its testing procedures, stating that rider safety is paramount and that the protocol for handling non-negative samples had been agreed upon with the PJA. Despite the controversy, the BHA affirmed its commitment to ensuring fair regulation in the sport.

As the investigation unfolds, the temporary pause on the testing pilot aims to address concerns raised by jockeys like O’Neill and maintain the integrity of racing regulations.

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