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Oisin Murphy reveals he considered quitting the saddle after failed drugs test

Oisin Murphy: top jockey has opened up about the impact of his three-month suspension
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Champion jockey Oisin Murphy has admitted he contemplated quitting the saddle following the fallout to the three-month drug ban he received last year.

A urine sample of Murphy's tested positive for metabolites of cocaine during a drugs test in France in July, and the rider was originally suspended for six months.

But the suspension was later halved and although the jockey was  absolved of taking cocaine himself, he admitted to making a "massive error" in exposing himself to the environmental contamination of the drug.

The three-month suspension issued by France Galop will expire on March 11 and, while Murphy successfully retained his Flat jockeys' championship title in the autumn, he candidly revealed to the My Sporting Mind Podcast how much he had struggled mentally.

'I wasn't sure if I wanted to ride again'

"I felt like the world had turned against me, over something I didn't really mean to happen," Murphy said.

"I probably spent a couple of weeks thinking about what I should do and when I say 'I wouldn't get back on a horse', I'd obviously go riding on the roads and watch show jumping and ride as a hobby, but whether I wanted to race-ride again is something I wasn't entirely comfortable with.

"When I went to America [for the Breeders' Cup] I was hoping I'd done enough to win the jockeys' championship and by the time I rode in my last race, I wasn't sure if I wanted to ride again."

The multiple Group 1-winning jockey revealed the effects the case had on his confidence in the saddle, which was boosted by securing Group 1 glory on Alcohol Free in the Cheveley Park Stakes before claiming his second title.

Oisin Murphy roars back to his best on Alcohol Free (near side) in the Cheveley Park

Murphy also spoke of the support he received from weighing-room colleague Frankie Dettori, who was banned by France Galop for six months between 2012 and 2013 after testing positive for cocaine, which he admitted taking.

"I didn't ride very well in August and as a result of that my confidence and my whole outlook took a dip," Murphy said. "I remember not sleeping for days on end – I might get an hour here and there then wake up. Your mood changes and declines.

Members' Club: Oisin Murphy – a champion with the X factor and a string of big winners

"I remember feeling the season was going to be defined one of two ways – I could fight on or let my season, my year, crumble to nothing. I knew I was going to get the ban, but I also knew that if I didn't win the jockeys' championship it would have been a season when I allowed everything that was going on around me to defeat me."

He added: "He [Dettori] keeps messaging me and telling me not to go off the rails. There was a lot of people worried about me when I found myself with so much free time. He, my management team, friends were all worried.

"Everyone's experience and situation is different, but I've certainly taken strength and encouragement from Frankie's journey to help me get through this."

Oisin Murphy: will be hoping to land a third jockeys' title this year

Murphy will bid for a third successive jockeys' championship this year, and with the high-quality array of horses he has at his disposal as number-one jockey for Qatar Racing and regular rider for Andrew Balding, he is determined for more success on the track and to put the off-track episode firmly in the past.

"The higher you climb, the further you fall. I'm twice champion jockey, the youngest person ever to win a Japan Cup, and I've tried very hard to do well," he said.

"If I do come back, and I do very much hope I will, I'm as hungry as I ever have been now."

If you want more on this story . . .

Showjumping, fitness and charity: how Oisin Murphy will fill his days during ban

Oisin Murphy: I made a massive error and need to put things right

'I'll fight to clear my name' – Oisin Murphy faces ban after positive drugs test

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I remember feeling the season was going to be defined one of two ways – I could fight on or let my season, my year, crumble to nothing

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Oisin Murphy
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