Frankie Dettori admits using cocaine in 2012 ahead of return

Jockey Frankie Dettori says he is "ashamed and embarrassed" after admitting for the first time he used cocaine in 2012.

Dettori, 42, was given a six-month ban after testing positive in France.

He told Channel 4 News  ahead of his expected return on Monday that he took the drug in a "moment of weakness".

"Things were going bad, I was depressed and I guess [in] a moment of weakness I fell for it and I've only got myself to blame," said the former champion.

Dettori's exile and return

Frankie Dettori
  • Dettori was banned for six months in November
  • He appeared on Channel 5 TV show Celebrity Big Brother in January
  • He has travelled to Australia, the United States, France and Ireland during his ban
  • Among meetings he missed were the Dubai World Cup, Guineas weekend and the key Classic trials
  • His return comes just 12 days before the Epsom Derby and a month ahead of Royal Ascot

The Italian-born rider, who has won the Flat Jockeys' Championship in the UK three times, was suspended by French racing authority France Galop after returning a positive test following a routine examination at Longchamp on 16 September last year.

Dettori will ride as a freelance this season after he split in the autumn from Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin racing team after an 18-year association.

After the failed test, France Galop and Dettori's lawyer refused to confirm the substance despite reports he had taken cocaine.

"I'm very ashamed and embarrassed, and paid a very big price for it. I spent six months not doing the thing that I love, racing," he said.

"I can't blame anybody else. The embarrassment of when it come out, I had to hide in my house for a week with the paparazzi outside.

"The embarrassment of telling the children. They still go to school, they might get bullied and so it was a very, very difficult time."

Dettori endured a difficult 2012 when his place as Godolphin's number one rider came under threat as younger riders Mickael Barzalona and Silvestre de Sousa were recruited by the Dubai-based team, which has two stables in Newmarket.

His failed test came the day after Barzalona won the season's final Classic, the St Leger at Doncaster, on 25-1 shot Encke, trained for Godolphin by Mahmood Al Zarooni.

Al Zarooni was banned from racing for eight years last month after admitting giving anabolic steroids to 15 horses earlier in 2013.

Dettori has been riding out on the gallops since mid-April - including a stint with Godolphin's Irish rivals Ballydoyle - as he prepares for a return which looks set to start on Monday evening at Leicester racecourse, which has named a race in his honour.

Ascot at 300 - Dettori's magnificent seven

The British Horseracing Authority's licensing committee said on Tuesday it has no objection to his return, which needs to be ratified by France Galop before rides can be booked for Dettori.

"His licence cannot be formally issued while there remain some outstanding test results in France. As soon as France Galop confirm that these are clear the licence will be issued and he can be formally booked for ride," said a BHA spokesman.

Dettori's agent Ray Cochrane, who survived a plane crash alongside the jockey 13 years ago, has said he hopes to book at least five rides for him on Monday.