Racing’s best known face, Frankie Dettori, is facing a ban from the saddle after failing a random drugs test.
The 41-year-old father of five, who lives at Stetchworth just outside Newmarket, faces at least six months on the sidelines, following Tuesday’s revelation that he had tested positive for a banned substance, believed to be cocaine, or a derivative of it, after riding at Longchamp racecourse in Paris on Sunday September 16.
Dettori, whose 18-year partnership with Sheikh Mohammed’s racing operation Godolphin recently ended, is due to appear at France Galop, French racing’s ruling body next week. It is understood the inquiry will be on Tuesday.
The news is a major blow for British racing as Dettori is its best known personality. After riding all seven winners at Ascot in 1996 his career took off and his fame made him an instantly recognisable sporting icon.
In a statement, solicitor Christoper Stewart-Moore said: “On behalf of Frankie Dettori I can confirm that, as a consequence of a positive test at Longchamp on September 16, 2012, he will be the subject of an inquiry by the medical committee of France Galop next week.
“In compliance with, and out of respect for, the regulations of France Galop, he will not be commenting further until the France Galop procedures have been completed.”
Dettori, who was made an MBE 12 years ago, is not the first high profile jockey to fall foul of France’s drug rules.
In July 2006 Kieren Fallon was suspended for six months after testing positive for a metabolite of cocaine at Chantilly. An 18-month ban resulted from another failed test given after he won the Prix Morny at Deauville the following year.
Back in 1993, Dettori, who has won more than 500 Group races during his career, received a police caution after being found in possession of a small quantity of cocaine while in London after watching a football match.
The incident cost him a lucrative winter riding contract in Hong Kong, but no action was taken by Britain’s racing authorities.
Dettori had been quoted at 10-1 to win next year’s Jockeys’ Championship.