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Matt Chapman: The embarrassing Sean Levey case shows we need serious change around drugs testing

, Matt Chapman: The embarrassing Sean Levey case shows we need serious change around drugs testing

INNOCENT until proven guilty… most of us would agree with that, except the BHA.

We know this from the treatment of class jockey Sean Levey, who recently failed an instant saliva test and was stood down from riding.

Jockey Levey was stood down after a failed test – but a subsequent sample proved he had done nothing wrong

The result of this was a massive dent in his reputation and the loss of a £20,000 bonus for being the leading rider in the Racing League competition.

Eight days later Levey was back in action after a urine sample he requested came back negative.

He was guilty of nothing.

Levey has no idea why the first test was positive, and those close to him — including jockeys I have spoken to — told me 100 per cent the Group 1-winning star was not someone who would stray from a straight path.

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Levey failed his test for amphetamines, which can be legal or illegal.

Think of stimulants that speed up the central nervous system and basically have similar effects to cocaine, ecstasy and caffeine.

Saliva tests are fine if they work but, if flawed — as Levey’s situation suggests — they should be scrapped right here, right now.

If they are persisted with, jockeys should be allowed to keep riding until the result of a B sample on the basis a doctor checks them out each day they are in action.

Levey worked hard to top the standings in the Racing League before the final day of action when he was suspended and was pipped for glory by Saffie Osborne.


As his team captain in that competition, I can’t tell you how gutted we all were.

And that’s not to even mention the punters — always forgotten in this situation — who backed him to be the leading light.

The BHA has a lot of explaining to do. But, as is so often the case, have shut up shop behind a wall of silence.

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That’s just wrong.

Levey will be in action at Haydock today on ITV4 on what is one of the biggest betting days of the year.

Over at Newmarket you have the monster juvenile events in the Group 1 Middle Park and Cheveley Park Stakes, but also the Group 2 Royal Lodge and Beresford Stakes, which all have massive ante-post implications for next season.

Then there is the little matter of an expected near 30-runner field for the Cambridgeshire (3.40).

Let’s start with the latter because, rather oddly I fancy one big-time in the unique one-mile, one-furlong event.

The one I’m hoping will storm out of the ‘bushes’ is Electrical Storm for Saeed bin Suroor, who goes mob-handed as he also has First View, Brilliant Light and Night Of Luxury in the race.

Electrical Storm has won only one race, but that was over this distance at York in June.

Since then he appeared to find a mile and a quarter a furlong too far at Sandown and then ran a very odd race in defeat at Haydock when I thought he was a good thing.

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I’m happy to forgive that effort, which wasn’t exactly a disaster.

I really think Cieren Fallon will get a right tune out of him today.

In the Group 1 Juddmonte Cheveley Park (2.25) for juvenile fillies over six furlongs I’ll be very surprised if Meditate doesn’t hack up for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore.

The Albany and Debutante victor was picked up by the extraordinary Tahiyra in the Group 1 Moyglareat The Curragh last time out but was a bit of a sitting duck there.

This trip may be more suitable for her. I’d have her odds-on to land this and she’s not.

Let’s hope I’m right!

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