TRAINER Tony Martin received a six-month ban on Thursday but the penalty has been suspended for two years. He was also fined a total of €11,000.

The penalties were imposed for a breach of the anti-doping rules, the trainer's third such offence in four years.

The Martin-trained Firstman tested positive for the prohibited substance lidocaine following his win in a handicap at Dundalk Stadium on January 18th this year.

Martin told investigators the horse had been prescribed the anti-arthritic drug Cartrophen by two veterinary surgeons in advance of the Dundalk race but it was found that this was not responsible for the presence of lidocaine, a metabolite of cocaine, in the post-race sample.

Unable to detect a source for lidocaine at his own yard, Martin suggested that his horse could have ingested the substance at the racecourse stables, possibly due to the racecourse management using recycled paper bedding.

This theory was disputed by both Dundalk Stadium officials and IHRB senior veterinary officer Dr Lynn Hillyer who said that, while it was likely the exposure to lidocaine took place within hours of the race, the amount present in the horse's system was far in excess of what would be expected if ingested through bedding.

In arriving at its decision, the Referrals Committee (Susan Aherm John Murphy and John Maguire) took cognisance of the trainer's early admissions and full co-operation with the investigation. They also recognised that removing the trainer's licence "is likely to have severe implications for his stable yard and may put it in jeopardy."

However, they also took Martin's previous two breaches of the anti-doping rules since 2019 into consideration.

Martin was fined a total of €11,000 for rule breaches and his training licence was ordered to be withdrawn for six months. However, the withdrawal was suspended for two years "subject to Mr Martin not breaching any anti-doping rules during this period. Any breach so found will result in the automatic imposition of the six-month withdrawal of his trainer's licence."

The horse was disqualified from first place.

Martin has a week in which to decide whether or not to lodge an appeal.