Purgatory was prolonged for Frankie Dettori yesterday when formal proceedings arising from the drugs test he failed at Longchamp in September began in a fashion characteristic of the French racing authorities — which is to say slowly and secretively.
A medical panel of France Galop convened in Paris with the jockey's lawyer Christopher Stewart-Moore but declined any public disclosure of their findings.
Dettori, understood to be in Dubai, was not obliged to attend the hearing and duly restricted his input to a conference call.
A separate, disciplinary panel has another fortnight in which to determine any punishment.
Dettori potentially faces a worldwide six-month ban — as served by Kieren Fallon, after the first of two failed drugs tests in France in 2006.
Julien Pescatore, media relations manager of France Galop, reiterated its policy of privacy — which extends to not specifying the prohibited substance.
“The substance will never be revealed by either the medical commission or France Galop,” he said.
“That is always the case. The medical committee will give their decision to the jockey and as long as he has not received it, France Galop will not communicate anything.”
It is understood that efforts had been made to expedite the cumbersome process, but these were plainly to no avail.
Certainly Dettori himself must be eager for any suspension to commence as soon as possible, so keeping to a minimum interruption of his first season as a freelance in 18 years.
Last month Dettori parted company with Godolphin, where his status had been challenged by the recruitment this year of Mickael Barzalona.
Pescatore did emphasise that Dettori had not been “targeted”, and that he had figured randomly among three breathalyser and two urine tests on September 16.
Events back on home soil suggested that life on the Turf is complicated enough.
First there was the melancholy news from Nigel Twiston-Davies that Imperial Commander must miss his intended comeback at Haydock on Saturday after suffering another setback. The 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner has fractured a hind-leg splint bone.
Then Brendan Powell Jnr showed mortification for jockeys can come in many different guises, given a 14-day ban for taking the wrong course on Benny The Swinger in a chase at Fakenham.