PARIS: Jockey Frankie Dettori has been banned from racing for six months by French horse racing stewards following a positive drug test.
The British-based rider tested positive for an unidentified banned substance Sept. 16 at a race meet at Longchamp. The ban, backdated to his medical hearing last month, is likely to be extended worldwide until May 19 next year.
The medical committee of the French horse racing association temporarily suspended the Italian on “medical grounds” last month and transferred the case to France Galop — the governing body.
“I have spoken to Frankie since the announcement was made and he has told me he fully accepts France Galop’s decision,” Dettori’s lawyer Christopher Stewart-Moore said in a statement. “He also accepts that he has let down the sport he loves and all those associated with it, as well as the wider public. But most of all, and this is his greatest regret, he has let down his wife and children.” Dettori’s case was heard Tuesday at France Galop’s Paris headquarters, which Stewart-Moore and another of Dettori’s representatives, Herve Naggar, both attended. Because of French laws regarding medical confidentiality, the identity of the banned substance was not given.
The 41-year-old Dettori is best known for riding seven winners on one day at Ascot in 1996.
Dettori, a three-time champion jockey in Britain, had four rides at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe trials meeting on Sept. 16, after which the positive sample was returned.
If, as expected, the British Horseracing Authority reciprocates the ban, Dettori would be back in time for Royal Ascot in June.
“He is enormously grateful for the opportunities that he has been given by owners and trainers over the years,” Stewart-Moore said. “Racing has been good to Frankie and he knows that his privileged position brings with it responsibility. For this reason he is determined to rebuild his reputation when he returns to the saddle.” He ended his 18-year association with owners Godolphin in October, announcing that he planned to ride freelance in 2013.
Dettori, who was cautioned by police in Britain for possession of cocaine in 1993, competed in France’s prestigious Arc de Triomphe race in October, finishing a disappointing seventh on Camelot. He was won the Arc three times and has the chance next year for a record-equaling fourth win.
Paul Struthers, chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, said Dettori can count on them for support.
“As in any walk of life jockeys will make mistakes,” Struthers said in a statement. “Frankie Dettori has made such a mistake and accepted the consequences of it, and if he needs any support the PJA and Injured Jockeys Fund between them can provide that.” Struthers is confident that, on the whole, jockeys are racing clean.
“Jockeys in Britain are subjected to regular testing and, from 2,607 in-competition urine tests and 3,697 breath tests since 2005, there is no evidence to suggest that there is a fundamental drug problem,” he said, adding that “0.3% of urine tests were positive for drugs and 0.2% of both urine and breath tests were positive for alcohol.” Irish jockey Kieren Fallon was banned for six months by France Galop in 2006 after testing positive for a banned substance. France Galop then banned him a further 18 months after a second positive test in August 2007.