Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Fallon lifting lid on racing drug culture

Kieren Fallon has lifted the lid on the drug problems at the heart of the racing industry.

The six-time champion jockey, who returned to the sport in September after serving an 18 month ban for cocaine use, claims that drug use is rife in Newmarket's racing community in particular.

The 44-year-old from Co Clare claimed: “Newmarket has the highest rate (of drug use) for its population in any town in England.

“I know there is (a drug problem in racing). I don't know what can be done. I've done something and I'm all right.”

And Fallon maintained that the drug problem is not limited to jockeys.

“I don't mean in the weighing room, I mean outside. If there were people that needed help I would love to advise them, I think there's plenty if you really want help but it's up to yourself,” he said.

Fallon’s most recent ban was his second such offence having served a six-month suspension in 2006 for testing positive for a metabolite of cocaine.

He was also suspended from racing in the UK after being charged with alleged race-fixing, though he was later cleared of all charges.

Fallon said it was the stress of the prolonged race-fixing trial at the Old Bailey which led him to take cocaine again — his solicitor admitting in December 2007, just a day after his Old Bailey acquittal, that he had failed a drugs test.

“Obviously when things aren't going well, my life was spiralling out of control,” he said. “Every second week we're having to take trips to England (from Ireland) to my barristers.

“We couldn't see an end to it, we were no nearer after a year, we couldn't see an end to it and you get to the stage you don't really care any more.”

Fallon's career has been studded by contrasting fortunes and he has emerged as one of the sport's most contentious characters.

Fallon is one of the most successful jockeys in British Flat racing, with three victories in the Derby, four in the 2,000 Guineas, four in the 1,000 Guineas and four in the Oaks.

In France, he has twice won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Yet he has always courted controversy — whether receiving a six-month ban for pulling jockey Stuart Webster off his horse, battling with tabloid newspapers or being accused of having an affair with the wife of his then trainer Sir Henry Cecil. Fallon and Cecil ended their racing partnership in 1999 as a result of the allegations but the Irishman denies any wrong-doing.

“(Cecil's wife) Natalie Cecil said that she'd had an affair with a top jockey but never named him and I think everyone presumed it was me at the time,” Fallon said.

“She's left Newmarket and has gone and I was left without a job. There was no truth in the rumours at all. Nothing had ever come of it, but I think her saying these things — it didn't look good for me.”

Despite his past Fallon says he is looking forward to a future which is devoid of controversy.

“I know now that I have to be stronger if I am to get away from the circle of people that bring you down, and move on,” he said.

“I don't know how many years I have left but I'll be working hard to do things right.

“Of course you're ashamed of the things you've done wrong. It eats away at you. And it builds up inside you, and you feel embarrassed.

“You walk back in the weighing room, after not being there for a long time and you think, oh Jesus Christ.

“It takes a couple of weeks before you start feeling yourself again, you're always trying to avoid people and it's embarrassing. But it won't happen again,” added Fallon, speaking on tonight’s Inside Sport programme on BBC1.

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