A stupid act on a Saturday night out on the town has cost jockey Campbell McCallum nine months of his career.
Yesterday the 22-year-old admitted at the stewards' inquiry into him testing positive to cocaine at the Belmont Park barrier trials in June 11, to snorting a line of the drug at a private home on the prior Saturday night during an outing with non-racing friends.
Campbell told stewards he'd consumed alcohol and was under its influence when he snorted the cocaine.
He said he had felt fine when he turned up to ride at the Belmont trials nearly 48 hours later.
He believed the amount he snorted was so small he did not think it would show up when he was asked to provide a urine sample during random testing.
McCallum said it was unusual for him to mix in the crowd he did that night.
"I've been riding as a licensed jockey for seven years and have had zero trouble," McCallum said. "I hung around a different crowd, had a bit to drink and made a stupid mistake."
Chief steward Denis Borovica said stewards took into account McCallum's honesty and high level of remorse, but were also mindful of the damage to the public's perception of racing and that a clear message needed to be sent by the authorities to deter others.
"Stewards view this as a serious breach," Borovica said. "There are serious consequences to your own health and welfare and that of the other riders you would ride against.
"The law has penalties of jail and there is addiction.
"There is no place for this drug in the racing industry. You have taken it and in doing so have given the industry a negative perception by the public. You also have tarnished the good work of other riders.
"But you have shown to be a professional young person in the industry and one the industry is keen to attract and let's hope this incident can be an aberration on what has been an uninterrupted career."
McCallum had his licence suspended for nine months, but provided he can provide a clear urine sample in two months, he will be allowed to resume trackwork.
Further clear testing and counselling for drug and alcohol rehabilitation could see McCallum start riding again in trials in four months and be back riding in races in six months.
Borovica warned McCallum that any failure by him to comply to the conditions would see the ban imposed to its full extent.
Australian Jockeys' Association chief executive Des O'Keeffe represented McCallum at the hearing and pointed to the jockey's unblemished record in a long career in racing which started at 13 years of age when he began riding trackwork in his home town of Cairns.
I hung around a different crowd, had a bit to drink and made a stupid mistake." *Campbell McCallum *