1. The Independent Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) met on 17 June 2021 to consider the allegation that Mr Levi Williams was in breach of Rule (K)49 of the Rules of Racing. (A Jockey must ensure that no Banned Substances is present in their body). A urine sample collected from him at Wolverhampton Racecourse on 29 January 2021 showed the presence of the banned substances benzoylecgonine (a metabolite of cocaine) and THC-acid (a metabolite of cannabis).
2. Mr Williams held an apprentice jockey’s licence valid until 29 July 2021. On 29 January 2021 he rode LETHAL TALENT in the Bombardier British-Hopped Amber Beer Handicap (Class 4) finishing third and MELBURNIAN in the Betway Classified Claiming Stakes (Class 5) finishing forth. On 4 February 2021 the BHA-approved laboratory confirmed the presence of benzoylecgonine at a concentration of 160ng/ml as well as the presence of THC-acid at a concentration of 55ng/ml. Mr Williams waived his right to have the B sample analysed. Both concentrations exceeded the threshold level. His licence was suspended on 5 February 2021 after an application made by the BHA to the Chairman of the Judicial Panel following the analysis proving positive.
3. Of necessity the hearing was virtual and followed the agreed rules for this procedure. Mr Williams was represented by Mr Rory Mac Neice of Ashfords LLP. The BHA’s position was presented by Mr Andrew Howell. No objection was taken to the constitution of the Panel. Mr Williams accepted from the outset that he was in breach.
4. In the course of his full and frank interview on 26 February 2021 Mr Williams admitted that he had taken cocaine approximately five days before the sample and that when on furlough, and not racing, he was using cocaine ‘too much’. He said that he had taken cannabis on New Year’s Eve when out with friends. He said that he felt no effects when racing. He had subsequently engaged in counselling sessions via Sporting Chance Clinic.
5. The entry point for a first offence under Rule (K)49 is withdrawal of licence for two months with a range between one and six months but where the banned substance is cocaine the withdrawal will normally be at the top of the range.
6. In setting out the history Mr Howell pointed out that the amounts were not abnormal in any way and there were no exceptional circumstances but that the concern in the use of addictive drugs was both personal welfare and the risk to other jockeys and horses.
7. Mr Mac Neice on behalf of Mr Williams underlined that there had been frankness and co-operation from the start and the acceptance of the inevitable punishment. The shock of the test had enabled him to confront his problems in realistic terms and to seek guidance. He had harnessed the support offered of both the PJA and Sporting Chance Clinic and wished to assist in promoting throughout the sport the message of how dangerous and detrimental such indulgence is.
8. Those that participate must always have in mind that riding having taken drugs potentially endangers not only the jockey and his mount but also his fellow jockeys and their mounts. We are encouraged by the efforts that Mr Williams has made to put these matters behind him and to take advantage of the help on offer, and note his determination to move forward in his career.
9. The licence will be withdrawn for six months but backdated to his suspension on 5 February 2021 until 4 August 2021. Mr Williams should expect to participate in the procedure under Part 23 of the Jockey’s Testing Code on re application and to submit to the enhanced sampling programme under Part 24.
The Panel for the Enquiry was: HH Brian Barker CBE QC, Jodie Mogford and Dr Lyn Griffiths.
The original article can be found here.