Frankie Dettori will not return to action on the racecourse until a fortnight before next year’s Derby after the former champion jockey accepted a six-month ban handed to him by the French authorities.
One of the biggest names in world racing has been given a suspension until May 19 for testing positive for a banned substance, believed to be cocaine, at a meeting at Longchamp in Paris last September.
Jurisdictions worldwide, such as the British Horseracing Authority, are expected to reciprocate the terms and the Italian born rider’s next important date is when he will be summoned to the headquarters of France Galop to be re-tested towards the end of April.
Dettori’s suspension was backdated as he had already been prevented from riding in France since November 20 when an independent medical commission spoke to him via a conference call and passed the file on to a disciplinary panel of the stewards at France Galop.
The French authority’s statement read: “On Tuesday December 4, the stewards of France Galop conducted a cross-examination of jockey Lanfranco Dettori’s file in the presence of his solicitor Mr Christopher Stewart-Moore and his representative M. Herve Naggar.
“Consequently they decided to take into account his temporary incapacity to ride in races in France due to medical reasons, as of November 20, 2012, pursuant to the statement made by the Medical Committee.
“This incapacity will apply until he submits himself to a new medical examination by a certified doctor appointed by said medical committee, which will establish that there is no longer a contra-indication to his riding in races.
“Upon this new medical examination, new biological samples will be drawn and analysed to check for the presence of prohibited substances.
“In the present conditions and considering this case represents a serious violation to the Rules of Racing, the stewards of France Galop have issued the jockey with an authorisation to submit to a new medical examination no sooner than April 20, 2013.
“The stewards of France Galop also decided, in agreement with the Rules of Racing, that jockey Lanfranco Dettori will be suspended and prohibited from riding in races as of Wednesday, December 19, 2012 until Sunday May 19, 2013 included and have asked foreign racing authorities to reciprocate this suspension to their own races submitted to their own set of rules and regulations.”
The three-time British champion jockey, 41, pledged to “rebuild his reputation” in a heartfelt statement released to the Press Association through his solicitor Christopher Stewart-Moore.
It read: “France Galop have today announced their finding Frankie Dettori has committed a breach of their rules relating to prohibited substances.
“I have spoken to Frankie since the announcement was made and he has told me he fully accepts France Galop’s decision.
“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.”
Stewart-Moore believed his client had received “a sympathetic hearing ” and said: “He is enormously grateful for the opportunities that he has been given by owners and trainers over the years, and for the support of his many fans.
“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.
“Frankie could make excuses. He has, after all, regularly been tested for prohibited substances throughout his career.
“He is clear, however, that the responsibility for his current situation lies squarely with him.
“From the start of France Galop’s inquiry he has acknowledged to them he has made a mistake and that the fault was his.
“Finally, he has asked me to thank everyone for the many messages of support he and his family have received.”
Dettori, who was cautioned by police for possession of cocaine in 1993, made the headlines in October when his 18-year association with powerful owners Godolphin came to an end, with the rider planning to operate as a freelance in 2013.
He partnered nine English Classic winners for Sheikh Mohammed’s team among a total of 110 Group or Grade One winners.
Four of those that formed the rider’s ’Magnificent Seven’ at Ascot in 1996 belonged to trainer Saeed Bin Suroor.
Dettori is not the first to fall foul of France Galop, with Kieren Fallon banned for six months in 2006 after returning a positive test for a metabolite of a banned substance.
France Galop then suspended him a further 18 months after a second positive test in August 2007.
Confirming Dettori’s suspension will include Britain, Jamie Stier, director of raceday operations and regulation for the BHA, said: “As is routine if requested by France Galop we will reciprocate this ban, though Dettori of course first has the right to appeal this suspension.”
The same was confirmed by Denis Egan, chief executive of the Irish Turf Club.