Paul Struthers, the chief executive of the Professional Jockeys’ Association, said on Friday that the PJA is “bitterly disappointed” by the decision of the British Horseracing Authority’s appeal board to dismiss an appeal by Michael Stainton against a two-year ban for a corruption offence.
The disciplinary panel decided last year that Stainton had conspired with the owner David Greenwood to ensure that his horse Ad Vitam ran down the field in four races between November 2011 and February 2012. However, it also decided that he did so in order to set up an attempted betting coup by Greenwood at a later date and not to ensure that “lay” bets on exchanges were winners.
“The fact remains that the central allegation made by the BHA - that Ad Vitam was stopped for lay betting purposes - was found not to be the case,” Struthers said. “Having been found innocent of this very serious charge, Michael was instead found guilty of what amounts to being instructed to and giving a horse a ‘run round’ for handicapping purposes in two races, a case we maintain was never put.
“We entirely accept that horses not running on their merits are bad for the sport. We cannot and do not condone it, whatever the purpose, even if it is a jockey simply doing what he is instructed to do. However, such instances should be dealt with and punished by the very penalty structure that exists for that offence.
“There is a stand-alone penalty that deals with the offence Michael has actually been found guilty of, and that is a suspension of 28 to 90 days for a first offence, and double that for a second offence. Instead Michael is now disqualified and unable to earn a living for two years.”
Struthers also suggested that the disciplinary panel had taken a “policy decision” on behalf of the BHA.
“If the BHA wishes to treat all instances like this as corrupt or fraudulent, then that change of policy should be decided and agreed through the usual channels and formally announced to the sports’ participants,” he said. “It is in our view entirely wrong for the disciplinary panel to take that policy decision for the BHA.”
Stainton has yet to hear whether an appeal against the severity of his ban has succeeded.
This article was written by Greg Wood, for theguardian.com on Friday 8th January 2016 18.49 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010