MICHELLE: DRUG USE MY FAULT
Still on track for Ascot
MICHELLE Payne will return from a drug-related suspension in time to take on the world’s best jockeys in England.
Payne was handed a onemonth ban by Racing Victoria stewards yesterday following a positive urine test for banned substance Phentermine, included in a weight-loss drug.
Payne, who expressed regret and said she took “full responsibility” for the offence, is among the world’s elite jockeys who will compete in the Shergar Cup at Royal Ascot on August 14.
Payne returned the positive test at a Swan Hill race meeting on June 11.
Yesterday’s hearing revealed the lingering effects of a nearfatal fall at Mildura in May last year, in which the Melbourne Cup hero badly damaged her pancreas. Payne said she took prescribed medication more to combat gastric issues than to reduce her riding weight.
She said she was embarrassed by the positive drug test and would work with her surgeon to seek a more suitable medication.
“Sensitive’’ medical information was presented to stewards yesterday but was not revealed during the hearing.
Payne said she regretted not seeking greater medical guidance.
“This is 100 per cent my fault,” she said in a statement.
“I would like to make it clear that I take full responsibility for what has happened.
“The onus is 100 per cent with me as a rider to know what I am taking, and the rules around it — regardless of whether it has been prescribed to me or not.
“My sincere apologies to everyone that this has happened in the manner that it has. I accept the stewards’ decision and appreciate it’s in keeping with other penalties for riders in breach of this rule.
“I’m very much looking forward to finding a solution in working with my surgeon. I look forward to working hard and being in great shape on my return to racing.”
Australian Jockeys Association chief executive Des O’Keeffe said Payne’se s status remained intact.
“Michelle’s reputation tion is an icon of Australian sport, not just racing,” Mr O’Keeffe said.
“I think the mannerer in which she’s handled this, she should be extremely ely proud of. Disappointed ted it’s occurred, but proud ud of how she’s handled d it. I don’t think it will tarnish her reputation n in any way.”
Payne won the 2015 Melbourne Cup aboard Prince Of Penzancee and recently rode at Royal Ascot.
She can resume her trackwork once she produces ces a clear urine sample.
Michelle Payne arrives for yesterday’s hearing, and (inset) after her 2016 fall at Mildura. Main picture: MICHAEL DODGE/GETTY