Marco Ghiani, champion apprentice jockey in 2021, tested positive for cocaine at Newcastle on August 25; Ghiani, who accepted the charge, was stood down from riding on September 5; Ghiani admitted two previous uses of cocaine, including two days before the failed test
Thursday 24 November 2022 14:08, UK
Former champion apprentice jockey Marco Ghiani has lost his licence for a period of six months, backdated from September 5, after testing positive for cocaine.
In a hearing of the British Horseracing Authority's (BHA) independent disciplinary panel on Thursday, Ghiani admitted two uses of the drug, including once just two days before failing a test at Newcastle on August 25.
Ghiani, who was crowned champion apprentice in 2021, was stood down from riding at Brighton on September 5 and has since been serving an interim suspension.
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Ghiani's riding licence, which was due for renewal at the end of the year, has been withdrawn until March, but he will be able to reapply during his penalty with the view to resuming his career at the conclusion of the withdrawal period.
In a statement read out on his behalf, Ghiani accepted the charge handed to him and apologised to his fellow jockeys, adding he felt "hugely embarrassed" by the matter.
Representing the jockey, his legal representative Rory MacNeice told the panel: "Mr Ghiani accepts the breach and accepts that he will serve a penalty at the top of the range of six months and he does not ask or seek from you a discount for making those admissions.
"Mr Ghiani recognises that this was a very grave error of judgement on his behalf. He has reflected considerably on how he got into this position.
"Essentially Mr Ghiani succumbed to the temptation at a time when he felt vulnerable professionally, Mr Ghiani puts a great deal of pressure on himself to succeed on behalf of those who engage him to ride their horses.
"One consequence of the positive (test result) is that it has triggered an awareness in him of the very considerable support available to him, particularly through the Professional Jockeys Association, in terms of counselling and help with these issues that he had previously felt unable to ask for.
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"That is not help to overcome a dependency on drugs, that is not the problem or the issue in this case, but help and support in dealing with the pressures of his profession.
"Mr Ghiani is hugely embarrassed by these events, he has apologised unreservedly and he does so again today. Not just to you, the BHA, but to all of those who have supported him.
"Most fundamentally, Mr Ghiani apologies to his fellow jockeys. He feels that they would be entirely justified in feeling that he had let them down by his use of cocaine.
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"He will work hard to regain their trust and if and when he is able to resume his career, he hopes he will be given the chance to make amends for that error of judgement."
The BHA is set to release the full written reasons for Ghiani's penalty in due course.