Sean Levey drug test drama: Jockeys call for review into saliva samples after false positive incident

Sean Levey drug test drama: Jockeys call for review into saliva samples after false positive incident

Jockeys have rallied around weighing room colleague Sean Levey and are backing his call for a ‘full investigation’ into the use of saliva samples for drug testing after a false positive led to a week-long ban from riding.

Levey was stood down at Sandown last Wednesday after a random test returned a positive result for amphetamine.

After initially making no mention of the reasons behind the absence, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) revealed the following day that Levey would miss the Racing League finale – and a shot at a £20,000 bonus for the competition’s top jockey – at Newcastle “due to medical reasons”.

He spent a total of seven days on the sidelines before being cleared to return on Wednesday this week following a negative urine sample, which Levey claims he had to request himself.

Speaking to Sky Sports Racing, Levey said: “I wasn’t given the opportunity to prove myself as innocent.

“It’s given me a great deal of stress and it’s tarnished my name because assumptions have been made and the financial aspect of it because I’ve missed out on seven days of riding.”

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Levey told Sky Sports Racing he will be looking into legal action after being stood down from riding for over a week following a ‘false positive’ test for amphetamine.

The BHA has refused to comment on the current drug testing system, making a brief statement with regards to Levey’s situation.

“The BHA can confirm that Sean Levey is able to ride and will be making no further comment at this time as the matter remains confidential,” a statement read.

Mitchell: I thought it was very unfair

Levey’s Flat racing companion Tom Eaves told Sky Sports Racing on Thursday how he has lost all faith in the saliva samples.

Asked how much confidence he has in the current system for drug testing, Eaves said: “None. I don’t think anyone has.

“It clearly doesn’t work so I don’t think anyone is going to be happy taking them. I’d go back to just the urine samples.

“When I first read about it and saw it was Sean Levey, I thought: ‘No chance!’ He is a very dedicated and fit lad.

“I don’t want anyone to go through what Sean has gone through in the last week. It’s in the paper and you’re labelled with that when you’ve done nothing wrong.”

Fellow rider Jack Mitchell, who won last year’s Racing League top jockey prize, added: “I thought it was very unfair what happened to Sean with the immediate stand down.

“It’s not the first time the saliva tests have given a false positive so that definitely needs looking at.

“Sean is a massive figure in the weighing, a top person and a top rider. For people that know him, his reputation won’t be tarnished but stuff like this doesn’t help.

“I don’t know why it was made so public straight away.”

Asked if he had lost faith in the saliva system, Mitchell said: “I think so. It’s a good and quick way of doing it – if it works.”

Levey has revealed he is now considering legal action, adding that he hopes “there are lessons to be learned from this and that similar things don’t happen to jockeys in the future”.

Levey is booked for three rides at Haydock on Friday.

Chapman: Levey ban is no way to run a sport

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Sky Sports Racing’s Matt Chapman feels the BHA were wrong to stand Levey down from riding, causing him to miss out on the Racing League finale, after subsequent tests cleared the jockey of any wrongdoing.

Sky Sports Racing’s Matt Chapman acted as the team manager for Levey’s London and The South during the Racing League.

He feels the BHA need to have a “rethink” into its processes for handing out suspensions for similar incidents.

Chapman said: “The authorities clearly need to take another look at this because we can’t have people being banned for no reason – especially when there’s big cash up for grabs. I’m absolutely gutted about it.

“In this instance, you’d have to question whether Levey should’ve been stood down straight away because subsequently it shows that he shouldn’t have been.

“This is clearly wrong and someone somewhere is going to have to have a rethink. You can’t just ban people and then say you’re fine a few days later. That is no way to run a sport.”

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