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'Embarrassed and sorry' Payne given four-week suspension

Michelle Payne: handed four-week ban
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Michelle Payne was on Thursday given a four-week ban from riding and trackwork after testing positive for a banned substance earlier in the month.

The Melbourne Cup-winning rider failed a drugs test after taking Phentermine, which is used as an appetite suppressant.

News of the test emerged on Wednesday, and on Thursday following a Racing Victoria inquiry the 31-year-old was handed the suspension.

She said: "I would like to take full responsibility and had I have known it would still be my system, and I would be riding with a banned substance in my system, I wouldn’t be riding. I'm embarrassed and I’m sorry for that."

Payne had tested positive for Phentermine when riding at a meeting at Swan Hill on June 11, and she made her Royal Ascot debut nine days later when finishing fifth aboard Kaspersky in the Queen Anne.

She is suspended until July 21, which means she will be able to return to Ascot for the Shergar Cup meeting on August 12. Payne had been due to ride at the fixture last year but was ruled out after suffering internal injuries in a fall at Mildura.

Ascot's director of racing and communications Nick Smith said that Payne's ban did not impact upon her place at the Shergar Cup. He said: "She's free to ride and we're looking forward to welcoming her."

'I am very much looking forward to finding a solution' 

It was in the aftermath of the Mildura fall that Payne was prescribed Phentermine following surgery on her pancreas.

Payne told the inquiry she was aware Phentermine was a banned substance, but believed it only applied to racedays, and not trackwork.

Robert Cram, who chaired the inquiry said he had taken into account Payne's guilty plea, her remorse, her good record in this area and the medical circumstances involved.

But he added: "However, notwithstanding those factors it is our view that you didn’t comply with your fundamental obligation to seek advice before taking the substance Phentermine."

Fellow jockeys Hugh Bowman and Damien Oliver had previously received similar length bans when testing positive for an appetite suppressant - though Oliver's was subsequently overturned - and Payne said: "I appreciate [the ban] is in keeping with other penalties for riders in breach of this rule.

"Going forward I am very much looking forward to finding a solution working with my surgeon. I look forward to working hard and being in great shape upon my return to racing."

I'm embarrassed and I’m sorry for that

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