Sunday Sports Pages: Health risks in horse racing and how the war on doping has already been lost

Kieran Cunningham and Gavan Reilly joined Joe Molloy in studio

Sunday Sports Pages: Health risks in horse racing and how the war on doping has already been lost

Tim Goode / EMPICS Sport

After talking through the coverage of Ireland's nine try romp over Italy, Joe Molloy and the rest of the panel identified some interesting pieces about the culture of weight cutting in horse racing.

It being the weekend which preceds the Cheltenham festival, the Sunday papers boasted a substantial volume of coverage for the annual four-day festival.

Michael Verney wrote an extenisve piece in the Sunday Independent about the dangerous tradition of weight-cutting which caught the attention of the panel. Kieran Cunningham of the Irish Daily Star, has previously written about this issue before and seeing Verney's article, triggered some information he received from a medical profession during that time.

''A doctor told me that he dealt with a very prominent Irish jockey, who after a race, collapsed and had to be brought to hospital. He was in very serious danger of organ failure over trying to make weight and he was very depleted. Michael Verney has some really great quotes on this and it really is an excellent piece.''

''People are generally getting bigger which is a huge problem for jockeys with a handicap system. Now they're 5'11'' and 6ft whereas they use to be 5'6'' or 5'7'' and trying to make the weight is a lot more difficult so there's going to be the temptation to take diuretics and cut corners. It's so dangerous, you're jumping fences at high speeds on a horse that weighs half a tonne.''

Gavan Reilly picked out a piece by David Walsh and his interview with champion jockey Ruby Walsh which equally illustrates the damaging implications of under-eating in horse racing.

''In one race, he fell off a horse and the horse struck him on the back of the head and the next thing he knew, the horse had cleared the next fence which meant he must have been out for about 8-10 seconds and he literally has no idea where he is so he looks around and notices that the stand is in Aintree so he must be in Aintree.'' 

The unavoidable Maria Sharapova story surfaced later on in the discussion with Dion Fanning and Paul Kimmage among those who wrote pieces for their respective Sunday papers.

Pointing to Kimmage's piece - an interview with Andrei Aggasi, previously intended for publication by the Sunday Times, but ultimately appeared in the SINDO, Kieran Cunningham said that the war on drugs has already been lost and referenced some disturbing news coming from Liverpool:

''HIV cases spiked in Liverpool last week due to the high volume of young men taking steroids in gyms. In one week, Gardai seized 12,000 units of steroids and they were for aesthetic purposes, they're not sports people.''