Still on track for As­cot

Herald Sun - - NEWS - MATT STE­WART matt.ste­wart@news.com.au

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

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