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Oliver "Herbal" Ban Reduced To Reprimand
The Victorian Racing Appeals & Disciplinary Board yesterday reduced champion Melbourne jockey Damien Oliver’s controversial 1-month suspension to a “severe reprimand”. Oliver’s appeal followed last week’s decision by Racing Victoria stewards to suspend the jockey after a random urine sample tested positive to the banned substance ephedrine, which Oliver insisted was contained in a “herbal supplement” he has been taking without previous problems (including 5 clear urine samples) for 9 years. The inquiry heard that, after a rule change in October 2008, Racing Victoria implemented more sensitive drug testing measures; however stewards conceded communication between themselves & jockeys about the rule change was lacking. RAD Board chairman Judge Russell Lewis ruled there was an obligation for jockeys to know the rules that govern the sport; however, he noted there was a “communication breakdown” between the 2 parties. Lewis also warned that in future all jockeys should remain “vigilant over what supplements they are permitted to take” & the leniency allowed in this case would not necessarily apply in future.