Frankie Dettori fears he may never repair the damage done to his reputation by a failed drugs test which has seen him handed a six-month ban.
The popular Italian, 41, will not return to action on the racecourse until a fortnight before next year's Derby, with his suspension, handed out yesterday by French racing authority France Galop, running from November 20 to May 19 inclusive.
One of the biggest names in world racing, Dettori tested positive for a banned substance, believed to be cocaine, at a meeting at Longchamp in Paris last September.
Jurisdictions worldwide, such as the British Horseracing Authority, are expected to reciprocate the terms and Dettori's next important date is when he will be summoned to the headquarters of France Galop to be re-tested towards the end of April.
Dettori's suspension was backdated, as he had already been prevented from riding in France since November 20 when an independent medical commission spoke to him via a conference call and passed the file on to a disciplinary panel of the stewards at France Galop.
Since then, Dettori has been coming to terms with what he did.
"I've been in hiding since it happened because of the shame factor," he told the Daily Star. "It's not very pleasant.
"People will always remember it. Now when they look at me they won't think of the things I have done for racing in the past 20 years, they'll just think, 'He's the guy who got caught with drugs'.
"But you can't change the past and you've just got to move on."
"I was in a dark place. I was very low, my job was going down the drain" - Frankie Dettori
The three-time British champion jockey said the indiscretion came as he feared for his future, having slipped down racing's pecking order.
Dettori, who was cautioned by police for possession of cocaine in 1993, made the headlines in October when his 18-year association with powerful owners Godolphin came to an end.
"I'm ashamed and embarrassed," said Dettori. "It was one night of madness with friends.
"I dropped my guard when I was at my weakest. I was in a dark place. I was very low, my job was going down the drain.
"When I woke up the next morning I regretted it but it was already too late. I will regret it for the rest of my life."
Dettori played down any suggestion the ban could signal the end of his career. He plans to operate as a freelance in 2013.
"I have still got a good five years left in me," he said.