Doping in racing: Jim Bolger’s claims are ‘credible’ and sport’s best chance to resolve issue, says Paul Kimmage

Jim Bolger spoke to Paul Kimmage in the Irish Independent, claiming he knew the identity of racing's doping cheats; Kimmage told Sky Sports Racing: "This is the best chance the sport has of resolving this problem." IHRB says it has a "zero-tolerance approach" to doping

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Journalist Paul Kimmage says trainer Jim Bolger is 'credible' after the trainer claimed to know the identity of doping cheats in Irish racing. The IHRB says they have a 'zero-tolerance approach to doping'

Jim Bolger’s claims that he knows the identity of horse racing’s doping cheats are ‘credible’ and offer the sport its best chance to resolve the issue, according to journalist Paul Kimmage.

Bolger has publicly voiced concerns about the issue of drug cheats in Irish racing on a number of occasions, calling it the sport's "number one problem" in October last year.

In a recent interview with Kimmage - a former professional cyclist who blew the whistle on doping in cycling in his autobiography in 1990 - Bolger claimed to know who some of the perpetrators were, adding "there will be a Lance Armstrong in Irish racing".

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Since the interview, the issue of doping in the sport has been once again debated publicly, including during coverage of Royal Ascot last week, where Bolger claimed another Group One victory with Poetic Flare in the St James's Palace Stakes.

"I would understand and identify with a lot of the reaction," Kimmage told Sky Sports Racing. "It's been something I've been hearing for 30 years.

Jim Bolger

"It started 30 years ago when I myself, as a whistle-blower stepped up to the plate and wrote a book about the doping problem in professional cycling.

"The reaction back then was pretty much the same: 'Where's the proof?', 'I've never seen it', 'why doesn't he name names?' That's exactly what's been levelled at Jim [Bolger].

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"There is a significant difference. I was a journeyman professional cyclist. It was very easy to dismiss someone like Paul Kimmage at the time when I wrote that book and what I was saying because of my profile in the sport.

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Bolger believes the issue of drugs cheats in Irish racing means there is not a 'level playing field'

"What was levelled against me was: 'He's a small-time rider, he's embittered because he never had any success, let's not take this guy too seriously'.

"That's what has been most interesting about Jim Bolger. Nobody could describe Jim as a small-time trainer. Nobody could say he's embittered. He is, in my view, absolutely credible and the best person possible, at this time, to say what he's saying."

Bolger recently told Sky Sports Racing he demands a "level playing field" and believes the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) could certainly have done more. The IHRB says it has a "zero-tolerance approach to doping in Irish racing".

IHRB response to Jim Bolger's comments
Image: IHRB response to Jim Bolger's comments

"It's really important that racing listens to Jim Bolger and also puts pressure on the regulator," Kimmage said.

"It's been spoken about all week, both on the Ascot coverage and on a couple of podcasts, and that's exactly what needs to happen.

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"Unless we talk about it and unless the issue is raised and debated, it never gets fixed. This is the best chance the sport has of resolving this problem. Jim Bolger is absolutely credible.

"This isn't just a racing issue, it's not just a cycling issue, it's a sport issue."

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