Full result & reasons for an Enquiry (D. Swift) heard by the Disciplinary Panel on Thursday 28 September 2017

Press Release

30 October 2017

Full result & reasons for an Enquiry (D. Swift) heard by the Disciplinary Panel on Thursday 28 September 2017

02/10/17 @ 14:30:00

Dale Swift

1. On 28 September 2017 the Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) held an enquiry into various matters concerning the jockey, Dale Swift, arising from the result of tests of a sample of urine taken from Mr Swift at Southwell Racecourse on 29 March 2017.  The analysis of the urine undertaken by Alere Toxicology reported the presence of benzoylecgonine to a level of 590 ng/ml. Benzoylecgonine is a “Banned Substance” as defined by Rule (D)58.3 of the Rules of Racing as follows:-

(i) A substance listed in Schedule (D)3 Part 1 and

(ii) Includes any isomer or diagnostic metabolite of the substance. Schedule (D)3 Part 1 includes stimulates, including cocaine, and provides that the presence of the drug and its  metabolites are to be confirmed at 150 ng/ml.

2. The relevant Rule is (D)65.1 which states “Subject to Rule 66, if a Sample from a Rider tests positive for a Banned Substance, the Rider shall be taken to have contravened a requirement imposed on him by this Rule”.

3. In his formal response in Schedule (A)6 required by the Rules of Racing, Mr Swift admitted to being in breach of Rules (D)65, (D)58.3 and Schedule (D)3 Part 1.

4. There was no objection from any of the parties to the participation of the members of the Panel in this case. The BHA case was presented by Mr Graham Gilbert.  Mr Swift was not in attendance but detailed written submissions had been lodged on his behalf by Stewart-Moore, solicitors along with an email reference from the trainer John Quinn which indicated that Mr Swift had been working for him for 4 weeks.

The Background

5.  There is no dispute as to the facts in this case.  The background is set out in the various documents before us including the BHA case summary, Alere Toxicology’s certificate of analysis dated 6 April 2017 and the interview record of 4 May 2017 and can be summarised as follows:-

(i)   On 29 March 2017 Mr Swift rode in the 4pm the Betway Handicap Stakes (Class 6) at Southwell Racecourse.   Alere Toxicology, a testing service approved by the BHA, were present at the racecourse.

(ii) Prior to the race Mr Swift was required to provide a urine sample for analysis.  He attended the on-course sampling unit and provided his urine sample which was divided into (A) and (B) samples.

(iii) On 6 April 2017 Alere Toxicology reported that the analysis of the (A) sample had revealed the presence of benzoylecgonine at a level of 590 ng/ml well above the permitted level of 150 ng/ml.

(iv) Mr Swift was advised of this positive finding by a letter dated 7 April 2017 in which he was advised that if he wished the (B) sample tested he must notify the BHA by 12 April 2017.  Mr Swift did not request that the (B) sample was analysed.

(v) Also on 7 April 2017 the BHA made an application to the Licensing Committee to suspend Mr Swift’s licence with immediate effect and that was granted later that day.  Mr Swift was stood down from his future rides and also relinquished his licence on 7 April 2017.

(vi) Mr Swift attended the BHA offices for interview on 4 May 2017 accompanied by his solicitor.  On the advice of his solicitor he answered “no comment” to many of the questions which were put to him.  He did however reveal that he had suffered from issues in relation to his weight for some time and that at the date of the interview his weight was 9st 10 which was well above his previous riding weight of 8st 12.  He said that for some years he had been involved in the practice known as “flipping”.  He also said that he was riding out for various trainers and that going forward his aim was to obtain full time employment as a work rider.

6.  Mr Swift has held various forms of jockey licences from 21 June 2002 and during his period as a licence holder he has been tested on 40 occasions and apart from the positive test with which this enquiry is concerned the only previous positive test was in relation to a urine sample taken on 21 September 2015 which disclosed a benzoylecgonine level of 1100 ng/ml.  As a result of that positive sample Mr Swift’s licence was suspended for a period of 6 months from 30 September 2015.

7.  The recommended penalties for a second offence in relation to Banned Substances is a suspension of between 6 months and 2 years with an entry point of 9 months.  The recommended penalties make clear that in the case of cocaine the licence should normally be withdrawn for a term at the top of the range.

8. During Mr Gilbert’s submissions the Panel raised with him the issue of the commencement date of any period of suspension which the Panel might impose.  Mr Gilbert’s response was to say that in a case such as this where there had been a positive sample then the commencement of any suspension had to be the date of the positive test which in this case was 29 March 2017.  Mr Gilbert referred us to Rule (D)65.5 which states “For the purposes of any Disciplinary Action taken for contravention of this Rule, the contravention shall be taken to have occurred on the date the rider was selected for sampling”.

Decision and Penalties

9.  Mr Gilbert made a brief submission in which he referred to the factual background and to the penalty guidelines.  He reminded us that this was Mr Swift’s second offence.  He did however acknowledge that there were no aggravating factors in this case and that it was clear that Mr Swift’s weight had been a long standing issue and while he acknowledged that Mr Swift did appear to have attempted to obtain assistance in relation to his difficulties he had nevertheless continued to take cocaine after his licence was restored following the 2015 suspension.

10. In the detailed submissions lodged by Stewart-Moore solicitors there is set out a considerable amount of information in relation to Mr Swift’s history and his current circumstances.  They say that he is at present a full-time work rider for John Quinn in Malton and this is confirmed by the reference which we have had sight of.  The submission goes on to make clear that Mr Swift has no intention of taking out a licence to ride again and that he wished to convey his profound regret for his actions and having let down himself and his family.  The submission goes onto record Mr Swift’s financial difficulties and how after taking out a house purchase loan he could not maintain the repayments following his first suspension and that as a result he had no alternative but to file for bankruptcy in August 2017.

11. The submission also refers in some detail to Mr Swift’s weight difficulties and records that since the date of his interview he has engaged with the Professional Jockeys Association to receive assistance in relation to this issue.

12. The Panel have considered all the evidence before them carefully and have taken into account the submissions made on behalf of Mr Swift.  Our conclusion is that while any second offence involving cocaine has to be treated seriously that there are no aggravating factors in this case as conceded by Mr Gilbert and for that reason we have come to the conclusion that the appropriate penalty in this case will be a period of suspension of 21 months from 29 March 2017.  The suspension will therefore run until 28 December 2018 inclusive.



Related Articles