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Jason Maskiellís case highlights substance abuse issue in racing

Promising Australian jockey Jason Maskiell has been hit with an 18-month ban from horse racing after testing positive for a banned substance. The troubled jockey will not be in the bookmakerís victory odds again until May 2015, with it the second time that he has faced a lengthy ban for the same offence.

Back in 2011, Maskiell tested positive to the drug ice, and was handed a six-month suspension from racing. The latest misdemeanor blights the career of a promising jockey, who was Melbourneís leading apprentice back in 2009/10.

The 18-month ban will prevent Maskiell from riding trackwork or in barrier trials for a year, as the jockey faces an extended time away from the sport to sort his life out. After the Kyneton Cup earlier in November, Maskiell was asked to give a urine sample, and the jockey arose suspicions when he failed to ride two scheduled races, in Warrnambool and Ararat, over the course of the next week.

The case of Maskiell is the latest in a line of shameful incidents that have the potential to sully the sport of horse racing.

Although there are strict parameters and tests to ensure that all competing animals are tested for illegal substances, it seems to be more often than not that it is the jockeys who are caught with something untoward in their blood stream. One of racing most illustrious names, Frankie Dettori, was banned for six months for testing positive in a drugs test.

Meanwhile insiders in the sport have repeatedly revealed the sinister underbelly in racing with a drug culture in the sport ruining its reputation. Maskiell will have plenty of time to consider his actions and sort himself out before racing again, while his example should be a warning sign to all other young jockeys who believe they can get away with substance abuse.


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