Frankie Dettori won’t be racing again for a little while longer after it emerged yesterday that he had failed another drugs test in France. Clearance from France Galop was one of the conditions set by the British Horseracing Authority before it would issue Dettori with a jockey’s licence.
When a horse or jockey is tested, the sample is split into two parts, with one tested immediately and the second part held back in case it is needed. According to the Racing Post, Dettori has asked for his B sample to be tested, and is waiting for the results of that. He has argued that the three tests that the French authorities insisted on did not relate to the six-month worldwide ban imposed after he tested positive for cocaine in September last year.
Yesterday, Dettori’s solicitor, Christopher Stewart-Moore, was making noises about a move to the High Court, arguing that there was no reason the BHA should not issue a licence. That view looks rather foolish now, as there is still an element of doubt as to whether the jockey is clean.
The BHA’s insistence on evidence that he is represents another strand of their efforts to clean up British racing. A statement from racing’s governing body said, “It remains the situation that the BHA are awaiting either clearance from France regarding Frankie Dettori or an understanding of the reason why France Galop do not consider him fit to ride. At present France Galop are exercising their right not to disclose this information. Clearance from France was always one of the criteria needed before Dettori could be issued his licence to ride in Britain and this was made clear by the BHA’s licensing committee at their meeting with Frankie Dettori on Tuesday May 14.”
This latest setback makes it highly unlikely that Dettori will be able to ride in the Derby or the Oaks at Epsom at the end of next week, as the results of the sample are expected to take between a week and ten days to come through. Dettori has been linked with a ride on one of Aidan O’Brien’s horses.
That he’ll live with. A bigger worry is that the sample now under testing also turns out to prove positive. That can only lead to another disciplinary hearing in France and the real possibility of another long spell out of action.