Jockey Fallon's Career Dealt Another Setback

Kieren Fallon may not ride again following the latest setback to his high-profile career -- a six-month ban from the French racing authorities for failing a drugs test.

It emerged on Nov. 29 that France Galop is intending to ban the 41-year-old for six months from Dec. 7 because of a positive for a metabolite of a banned substance (not specified) when he partnered Ivan Denisovich in the Prix Jean Prat (Fr-I) at Chantilly, France, on July 9.

If he does not appeal by Friday, then the ban will go ahead, meaning that he unlikely to be able to ride anywhere in the world until June 7, 2006.

At the moment, Fallon is restricted where he rides after being charged by police in Britain with conspiracy to defraud Betfair customers on July 3. His trial is meant to take place at some point next year.

Britain's Horseracing Regulatory Authority banned him from riding in England, Wales and Scotland. It did not ask other racing jurisdictions to follow suit but several have including Hong Kong which announced on Nov. 27 that Fallon could not ride at its international meeting in December while the jockey has not been licensed by various American states.

This had left the jockey free to ride in Ireland for his retained owners John and Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith whose horses are mainly with the country's champion trainer Aidan O'Brien. He has also ridden in France, Germany, Australia and Turkey.

However, the French ban is likely to stop all that. Denis Egan, chief executive of the Irish Turf Club, commented: "We were informed by France Galop this afternoon that Kieren had tested positive for a prohibited substance. The stewards need to meet first but I would imagine he will be banned from riding in Ireland as well. The international jurisdictions sign up to an agreement that if something as straightforward as this happens, we follow their decision. As both ourselves and France Galop are signed up to the agreement it seems likely he will be banned from riding in Ireland. However, nothing is official until we hear from France Galop whether or not Kieren is to appeal."

Fallon has speculated on two occasions in recent months that he may retire from race riding if his trial in Britain is delayed into the main racing period next year, arguing that he could not fully serve his retaining owners.

A ban to June 7 would mean missing various European classic races and Fallon may decide that he has had enough.

Even so, a spokesperson for Coolmore reported: "John Magnier, Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor and Aidan O'Brien have learned of Kieren Fallon's suspension by France Galop.

"During that period, they will continue to use the best jockey available to them."

They have stood by Fallon so far and are likely to continue doing so.

Fallon's solicitor Christopher Stewart-Moore issued a statement which revealed that the quantity of metabolite of the prohibited substance found was "exceedingly low ... as to admit that the possibility that the test result arose solely as a consequence of environmental contact".

Stewart-Moore added: "Over the course of his long riding career, Kieren Fallon has been tested by authorities all over the world and the results have always been negative. In this case, only trace levels were detected and these are considerably lower than generally accepted thresholds for positive results. Kieren is dismayed at this turn of events but understands that as it is a strict liability offense, France Galop has no alternative but to impose a suspension."

Both the A sand B samples taken from him in France were positive.

Fallon has been British champion jockey six times.

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