Top jockey Richard Johnson backs move for weekly Covid testing in racing amid nationwide surge in cases

Top jockey Richard Johnson backs move for weekly Covid testing in racing amid nationwide surge in cases

FOUR-TIME champion Richard Johnson has supported the potential move to test jockeys for COVID-19.

Racing has continued incident free behind closed doors since June, but with a new variant spreading rapidly, the industry is looking to stay ahead of the curve.

And Johnson, Joint President of the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA), would welcome the added measures.

Johnson said: “Racing has done brilliantly so far with its safety and all the precautions.

“Everyone has been great, the PJA and Dr Jerry Hill and the BHA, and the social distancing and masks on course are there for all to see.

“But anything that can add an extra layer I would welcome and I’m sure most other jockeys would.”

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) are looking at testing riders twice a week to keep the weighing room free of any outbreak.

Almost all elite sports such as football and rugby are already testing their participants.

Johnson added: “Us jockeys travel up and down the country to race.

“Lots of us have got young families, or elderly relatives and people we go back to.

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“If we can be sure we’re not carrying anything and are being tested then that helps with your ease of mind.”

The BHA is looking into a potential testing programme but maintain the current protocols remain government approved.

A spokesperson said: “We are constantly monitoring the situation and liaising with the industry and training hubs.

“We take an agile approach and our protocols are under constant review to determine how racing can continue to strengthen our approach and best safeguard our people.

“Owing to the new variant of the disease the picture is changing, and should evidence show it is necessary then testing is an option that may be helpful.

“As ever, we will be led by the science, data and evidence.”

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