Jim Bolger is to be invited before an Oireachtas committee investigating claims of doping in the Irish horse racing industry, it has been confirmed.
Agriculture Committee chairman Jackie Cahill said Bolger’s claims were doing “serious reputational damage” to the industry and that it was important they are either “substantiated or put to bed”.
The Fianna Fáil TD for Tipperary confirmed that committee members had decided to ask Bolger and representatives of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board, Horse Racing Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, and the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association to discuss the matter on July 6.
Earlier this month, Bolger – who this season has won the 2000 Guineas in England and Ireland with Poetic Flare and Mac Swiney respectively – outlined his concerns about the possibility of doping within Irish racing in both a newspaper interview and in a racing podcast.
It prompted the IHRB to underline its commitment to “the highest standards of integrity within Irish racing” and a “zero-tolerance approach to doping”.
Cahill said it is “hugely important” that the accusations are investigated given Ireland’s horse racing reputation.
“We’re seen as the world leaders in horse racing. For a small country our success is phenomenal,” he said.
“We really punch above our weight and for a lead trainer – Jim Bolger – to say that there would be a Lance Armstrong incident in Irish racing is extremely serious.
“It just can’t be ignored it must be dealt with.”
He added: “In my view he has to either confirm it or withdraw it. It’s doing serious reputational damage.”
Cahill said there is an “obligation” on the committee to investigate the claims.
“The way we look at this is this issue either has to be substantiated or put to bed,” he said.
“You can’t having a doping insinuation like that hanging over the industry.
“We’ll see what Mr Bolger has to say and we’ll listen to the various authorities and see where we go from there.”
A spokesperson for the IHRB said on Tuesday: “We would welcome the opportunity to meet with the deputies on the Oireachtas Committee and explain details of what we do in terms of equine anti-doping and our strategies as well as the advances that have been made in this area over the last number of years and more recently.”