Melbourne Cup winner Payne banned 4 weeks in doping case

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Michelle Payne, the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup, has been suspended from racing for four weeks after testing positive to a banned appetite suppressant.

Payne pleaded guilty at a hearing on Thursday to taking Phentermine, which was prescribed for her as part of treatment after surgery last year following a serious racing accident.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported that Payne told the inquiry she knew Phentermine was banned on race days but thought it was permitted during track work.

She said she was rushing to prepare horses for the Swan Hill Cup meeting in Victoria state on June 11, when the test was conducted.

''I didn't think about it because I didn't know I was riding until that morning,'' Payne was quoted as saying. ''I would like to take full responsibility and had I known it would still be in my system, and I would be riding with a banned substance in my system, I wouldn't be riding.

''I'm embarrassed and sorry for that.''

The racing ban was backdated to June 23, when she was initially stood down from racing and track work by Racing Victoria. She will be eligible to return to competition on July 21.

The 31-year-old Australian rode and trained two horses on the nine-race program at Swan Hill, picking up a place on four-year-old mare Sovereign Wealth.

Payne, who rode 100-to-1 outsider Prince of Penzance to victory in Australia's richest race in 2015, has recently returned to Australia following a trip to Britain, where she rode Kaspersky to fifth place in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

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