Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne’s mistake in taking a banned appetite suppressant should be a lesson for all riders, the Australian Jockeys Association says.
An embarrassed Payne says she takes full responsibility and should have investigated further after her doctor prescribed Phentermine to help deal with gastrointestinal problems connected to injuries she sustained in a serious race fall.
AJA chair Des O’Keeffe says Payne accepts it is the rider’s responsibility to know what they are taking and the rules around it, regardless of whether it is prescribed by a doctor or not.
“At the end of the day the buck stops with the rider,” O’Keeffe said.
“There’s plenty of information out there of what they can and can’t take. They need to follow that carefully.”
Payne was banned from riding in races for four weeks, until July 21.
O’Keeffe does not believe it will hurt the reputation of the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup.
“Michelle Payne’s reputation is as an icon of Australian sport and not just racing.
“I think the manner in which she’s handled this she should be extremely proud of, disappointed that it’s occurred, but proud of the manner in which she’s handled it.
“I don’t believe it will tarnish her reputation in any way whatsoever.”
O’Keeffe said Payne seems well after suffering life-threatening injuries in the fall in May last year, which required extensive surgery.
“I know she’s found winter very difficult this year and hopefully with additional treatment, additional advice now she can get on top of it,” he said.
Payne rode at Royal Ascot last week and has been invited to compete in the Shergar Cup international jockeys’ challenge at Ascot on August 12.
“I look forward to working hard and being in great shape upon my return to racing,” she said.
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