Horse racing: Melbourne Cup winner Payne gets month ban for drug use

Australian jockey Michelle Payne posing with the winner's trophy on Nov 4, 2015.
Australian jockey Michelle Payne posing with the winner's trophy on Nov 4, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

(AFP) - Pioneering Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne was on Thursday (June 29) banned from racing for one month after pleading guilty to taking a banned substance.

Payne said she took "full responsibility" for taking the appetite suppressant Phentermine, which is banned under Australian racing rules and was found in her urine sample at the Swan Hill Cup meeting on June 11.

"I would like to make it clear that I take full responsibility for what has happened today," Payne told reporters after attending an inquiry by Racing Victoria stewards.

"The onus is 100 per cent with me as a rider to know what I am taking and the rules around it regardless of whether it has been prescribed to me or not.

"I am very much looking forward to finding a solution and working with my surgeon. I look forward to working hard and being in great shape on my return to racing."

The 31-year-old will be able to return to competition on July 21 as the ban was backdated to when she was stood down last week.

Payne was prescribed the appetite suppressant after she suffered a torn pancreas in a fall last year, Victorian Jockeys Association chief executive Des O'Keeffe told AFP on Thursday.

"She said that she was struggling more (with her diet) than she had been prior to the injury, and she sought some medical advice," he said.

There were fears for Payne's career after last year's fall, but she returned to the track and finished fifth on the Australian-owned Kaspersky at the Group One Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot last week.

Payne, from a family steeped in racing, made international headlines when she became the first woman to win Australia's 155-year-old Melbourne Cup on Prince of Penzance at Flemington in 2015.