Jockey Benoit de la Sayette has been banned for six months after failing a drugs test just days after denying taking cocaine.
The 18-year-old was shown in a film at a party where cocaine was used, with the Professional Jockeys’ Association claiming it was a “malicious” video.
But De la Sayette failed a test days later, when the British Horseracing Authority took samples from the rider.
He may be able to resume riding on 17 October as the ban has been backdated.
De la Sayette may first have to satisfy a licensing committee that he remains a fit and proper person to hold a licence.
At a disciplinary hearing on Thursday, Ciara McElvogue, for the BHA, said the rider admitted taking cocaine around three or four times between August 2020 and January 2021, after falling in with a “bad crowd” while living in Newmarket.
De la Sayette was represented by Rory Mac Neice, who said the rider took “full responsibility for the position he now finds himself in”.
He said the jockey came into contact with cocaine through people he lived with, when he “succumbed to temptation”, before ceasing his use of the drug when moving back in with his parents in February this year.
McElvogue told the panel there was “no suggestion or evidence” that De la Sayette ever rode in a race under the influence of cocaine, but presented the evidence of a toxicologist who studied the hair sample as indicating “the likely use of cocaine in the period of January to March”.
She stressed the time period involved was estimated and did not say it amounted to a finding of continuing use through that period, but Tim Charlton QC, chairing the panel, felt the evidence was a cause for concern.
Charlton told the rider he had “misgivings about the fullness of the explanation you have given in the light of the expert evidence we have”.
After the positive test was announced in April, De la Sayette said: “I can’t apologise enough for my actions, both for taking cocaine and misleading those around me.”
He had been suspended by the BHA until the conclusion of the disciplinary process.
On 27 March, De la Sayette rode Haqeeqy to victory in the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster for top Newmarket trainer John Gosden.
Following the victory he featured in a video that was circulated on Twitter of a party where cocaine was being used, but the PJA said at the time the video was designed to discredit him.
The BHA arranged to take urine and hair samples from De la Sayette on 31 March. The urine sample returned a negative test but the BHA said the hair sample was positive for metabolites of cocaine.
“Benoit has now admitted that he has previously taken cocaine and that he had initially not been as forthcoming as he ought to have been to those close to him and advising him,” said the PJA.
“He maintains that the circulated video was from October 2019, that he did not take cocaine on that occasion and did not do so after winning the Lincoln.”