Frankie Dettori fears he may never repair the damage done to his reputation by a failed drugs test which has resulted in a six-month ban for the popular jockey.
The 41-year-old will not return to action on the racecourse until a fortnight before next year's Derby, with his suspension, handed out 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 are expected to reciprocate the terms and Dettori's next important date will be when he 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 passed the file on to a disciplinary panel of the French 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," Dettori told London's Daily Star newspaper.
"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."
The three-time British champion jockey said the indiscretion came as he feared for his future, having slipped down racing's pecking order.
Dettori made 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.
Trainer Luca Cumani, who gave Dettori his first job in British racing as an apprentice in 1985, threw his support behind his former stable jockey.
"He has done a world of good to the sport and let's hope he can put this behind him quickly and go back to where he was," Cumani said.