Frankie Dettori: stewards will be studying his file within the next fortnightPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Dettori suspended as disciplinary date looms
FRANKIE DETTORI on Wednesday appeared to concede that a worldwide ban from the sport is coming his way after he responded to France Galop’s announcement of an imminent disciplinary hearing into his failed drug test by saying he accepted “their conclusions without reservation”.
The sport’s most famous jockey had his worst fears confirmed when a medical commission passed the details of his positive test for a prohibited substance to stewards of French racing’s governing body, which will quickly convene a disciplinary hearing that is widely expected to result in a six-month ban for the jockey who is about to forfeit his status as Godolphin’s number-one rider.
The independent commission temporarily revoked Dettori’s licence on medical grounds, but of far graver concern to Britain’s three-time champion jockey was its decision that the severity of the evidence took the case outside the realms of the medical and into the disciplinary arena, in effect removing the 41-year-old’s last hope of avoiding sanction.
Having been assured Dettori has no intention of taking mounts before the hearing, the BHA responded by stating racing’s long-time flagbearer would need to undertake a medical were he to seek a change in that position.
Dettori, who failed a test for a prohibited substance at Longchamp on September 16, gave his testimony to the panel of three doctors by conference call on Tuesday, while both his solicitor Christopher Stewart-Moore and his French agent Herve Naggar appeared in person to argue his case.
However, a statement issued by France Galop on Wednesday afternoon confirmed the failure of the Dettori team’s efforts to dissuade the medical commission from forwarding the case to stewards.
It read: “Following yesterday’s examination of the file and after having duly notified the jockey Lanfranco Dettori of its decision, the medical committee has temporarily suspended the said jockey from riding in races in France, based on medical grounds.
“The medical committee’s report has been passed on to the France Galop stewards. The stewards will be studying the file within the next fortnight before deciding what action will be taken.”
A communique that at face value seemed almost benign in its wording had encoded within it the unmistakable march towards what now seems an inevitable outcome, namely a global ban for Dettori, with six months the expected penalty for a first offence.
Stewart-Moore said in a statement: “Following today’s announcement by France Galop setting out the conclusions of their medical committee, Frankie Dettori would like to say that he accepts their conclusions without reservation. He is grateful to the medical committee for their time and in particular for listening to his explanation of his position.
“As to the suspension of his licence in France, this is something he fully anticipated and he has not in any event ridden since November 6, when he honoured a pre-existing commitment to ride in the Melbourne Cup.
“He can now confirm that until the matter is resolved by the stewards of France Galop at a hearing within the next fortnight he will not be riding again anywhere. Once the stewards of France Galop make their decision he will make a full statement but is unable to do so until such time as that final decision is announced.”
France Galop has no statutory time frame within which it has to call the disciplinary hearing, but director of racing and regulation Henri Pouret confirmed it will take place sooner rather than later, saying: “In practice it’s usually around 15 days. It can be shorter, it can be longer.”
Although the suspension of Dettori’s licence extends only to France, the BHA reacted swiftly to the news from Paris.
“We’ve spoken to Frankie Dettori and his solicitor and ascertained that he has no intention of riding in Britain between now and his hearing with France Galop,” said the BHA’s director of raceday operations and regulation Jamie Stier.
“Should his plans change, he has been made aware that as he has been stood down by France Galop on medical grounds, he would be required to undertake a medical examination by the BHA chief medical adviser before being permitted to ride in Britain.”