Dettori- my cocaine shame and embarrassment

Dettori - pensive in Channel 4 interview

Dettori - pensive in Channel 4 interview

Frankie Dettori has spoken of his shame and embarrassment in an interview to be broadcast just days before his return from a six month suspension for drug misuse. The interview with Clare Balding is considered so significant by Channel 4 that it will be broadcast on the main news bulletin at 7.00pm this evening rather than during the coverage of York’s Dante meeting during the afternoon.

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This is the first time he has spoken publicly since he tested positively at Longchamp on Arc trials day for what was widely believed to be cocaine. Although he doesn’t use the word himself, when Balding asked directly “why did you take cocaine and in what circumstances?” Dettori does not challenge her. He simply says, “Things were going bad, I was depressed, and I guess a moment of weakness and I fell for it. I can’t blame anybody else.”

Dettori reflects on the impact events have had on his family, and the embarrassment he felt when he had to tell his children what was happening. In the teaser for the interview, he does sound contrite. “I’m very ashamed and embarrassed,” he said. “I paid a big price for it. I spent six months not doing the thing that I love, racing. The embarrassment of it when it came out, I had to hide in my house for a week, the paparazzi outside, the embarrassment of telling the children. They still go to school, they might get bullied, and so it was a very difficult time.”

Certainly, it was a low time in his racing career, and his future with Godolphin had been in doubt for much of the season, with Sylvestre de Sousa and Mickael Barzalona taking most of the plum rides. In the interview, he looks back on that time and also the drugs scandal that has engulfed former Godolphin trainer Mahmood al Zarooni.

Dettori returns to action at Leicester next Monday evening, where he has an almost full book of rides. The racecourse had hoped to rename the first race the “Welcome Back Frankie Maiden Stakes”, but that was banned, as general manager David Maykels explained. “We tried but the British Horseracing Authority have banned the idea because they think it is in bad taste. Some people said the name implied Leicester racecourse was supporting drugs, but it isn’t about that at all. What we wanted to say was that Frankie is good for the sport and we are glad to have him back. He opened our new grandstand in 1997. We are hoping for a bumper crowd. We normally get about 1,000 spectators for our first meeting of the year.”

Dettori will hope quickly to prove that he has lost none of his appetite for racing and his skill in delivering winners. An early objective will be for his agent, Ray Cochrane, to secure him rides in the Derby and Oaks. What an irony if that were to be on a Ballydoyle horse, as when Dettori took the ride on Camelot in the Arc last year it was seen by many as the final straw in his long relationship with the Godolphin team.

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4 replies
  1. Avatar
    Matt Bisogno says:

    It’s not right to name a race like that. Frankie IS great for the sport, but he also broke the rules and committed a crime. That shouldn’t be celebrated by a racecourse seeking to cash in from it.

    I’m looking forward to see him back in action, like most others, but there is no glory associated with his misdemeanour and Leicester – a track which failed to pay tariff in prize money last year – should tread carefully.


  2. Avatar
    col says:

    Kieran Fallon has come back with no adverse reaction from the public so Frankie should be ok too.I personally aren’t concerned,just find it hard to believe that it was just a one off.

  3. Avatar
    brian says:

    Anyone who has read Frankie’s autobiography will know in his early days he used drugs and only the likes of Barney Curly brought him back from the brink, sadly it looks like he slipped back into old habits.
    I abhor durgs having family experience of how it destroys lives and would never condone their use no matter what certain individuals say about relaxing the law.
    I wish Frankie well, he has been a fresh of breath air for years and certainly brought the sport to a much wider audience, as long as he stays drug free!

  4. Avatar
    kevo says:

    It would be good to see him do the right think and shop the scum that dealt the drugs-that would be a real statement of intent

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