Radio documentary on Sunday puts jockeys' mental health under the microscope
Jump jockey Aidan Coleman is one of a number of current and former riders to spell out the damaging abuse that jockeys receive on social media in a talkSPORT documentary investigating the issue of mental health in racing.
In the hour-long programme which can be heard at 9pm on Sunday, Coleman says: "I've had everything from you're a useless such-and-such to insulting your family, wishing you ill as in serious injury – break your neck, you get that a lot.
"Then you get something like, 'If you've got kids, I hope they get cancer'. You name it, it has been said at some stage. It's vile really, some of the stuff you get."
The broadcaster's racing correspondent Rupert Bell investigated the problem of jockeys' mental health in the light of the deaths last year of former jockey James Banks and weighing-room colleague Liam Treadwell.
Banks's mother Beverley Reid reveals her son's issues with drink and drugs.
She says: "If he had a bad day he couldn't cope with the fact he had a bad day, he would always beat himself up about it. His total behaviour was psychotic, he was drinking all the time. He was becoming very isolated, he'd lost everything that he had."
In the documentary – The Fallen Jockey – rider Kieran Shoemark details his lifestyle in the period leading up to his drugs ban in 2018 and calls for better testing.
"I can tell you the number of times I turned up to the races knowing if the testers were there that I would have failed it," he says. "Before getting caught, for four or five months I was turning up at the races in a state of fear.
"I think there are definitely problems within the sport, I think the testing needs to be ramped up. The urine sample isn't effective enough, I think there should be hair sampling."
Sir Anthony McCoy also speaks of the stresses that riders face and says: "There's probably a touch of madness in every jump jockey. There aren't very many sports where there are two ambulances following round, and to do it there has to be a little element of madness in you.
"Every elite sports person has a madness, there's a switch in them all, there's a side inside them that they'd rather - god forbid - die than fail. They go to the extreme."
Mick Fitzgerald and Lizzie Kelly are other guests to feature in the documentary, in which racing's governing bodies detail changes being made to tackle the issue.
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