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'Shark' Hanlon handed 18-month suspended ban after Galway winner tests positive

Carlow trainer intends to appeal the IHRB committee’s findings.

Hanlon: no explanation for positive test.
Hanlon: no explanation for positive test.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

JOHN ‘SHARK’ HANLON has been hit with an 18-month suspended sentence of his licence after his Galway Races winner tested positive for an excessive amount of cobalt.

Camlann won the Open Gate Pure Brew Handicap at the Festival on 2 August but a post-race sample taken from the horse discovered cobalt in excess of the permitted threshold.

At a hearing of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on Tuesday, Hanlon was found to be in breach of Rule 96(A), which relates to the presence of prohibited substances. Camlann’s win was disqualified while Hanlon was fined €7,000 and hit with the suspended sentence on his training licence, which will remain for three years.

The Carlow trainer did not request for Camlann’s B sample to be tested, but it is reported that he will appeal the committee’s findings.

“In his evidence Mr Hanlon stated that the horse was receiving an oral supplement which contained cobalt and vitamin B12 however it was not administered to the horse on the day of the race. He stated that he did not know the source of the adverse analytical finding and could not provide any explanation,” the IHRB report said.

Dr Lynn Hillyer, the IHRB’s chief veterinary officer and head of anti-doping, told the hearing that cobalt is an essential micronutrient for horses and can be legally found in horses who have been given vitamin B12 or inorganic cobalt.

However, there are internationally agreed thresholds for the permissible level of cobalt allowed in a horse’s system on raceday due to concerns about performance and welfare when the substance is present in a high concentration. 

“In considering [a] penalty, the Committee noted that this was not the first occasion of apparently unexplained race day exposure to a prohibited substance in respect of Mr Hanlon and the current case in question was serious in nature resulting in a strong argument for the withdrawal of licence from the trainer,” the IHRB report said.

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Niall Kelly

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