Al Zarooni Suspended Eight Years; Godolphin Horses Banned for Six Months

by | 04.25.2013 | 2:19pm
Mahmood Al Zarooni

Godolphin trainer Mahmood al Zarooni was banned from horse racing for eight years by the disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority.

On Monday it was announced that 11 horses trained by Al Zarooni had tested positive for two banned anabolic steroids. Al Zarooni was accompanied to Thursday's disciplinary meeting by Godolphin's racing manager, Simon Crisford.

After the meeting concluded, Crisford told members of the press that “I would like to apologize to Sheikh Mohammed, to all at Godolphin, and to fans of British racing.”

Crisford added that it was a “Terrible day for British racing and Godolphin. Zarooni was reckless and we are sorry as he was ours.”

Statement from BHA Chief Executive Paul Bittar regarding today's Disciplinary proceedings involving Mahmood Al Zarooni:

“We believe that it is recognised by all who follow our sport that the circumstances in this particular case are exceptional, not only on account of the profile of the owner in question, but also the number and calibre of the horses involved. However, we also believe the outcome is an endorsement for the effectiveness of British Racing's dope testing programme.

“On April 9th representatives of the BHA visited the yard of Mahmood Al Zarooni and took samples from 45 horses as part of our testing in training sampling programme. As soon as the nature and number of positives became apparent, we recognised that there were a number of challenges for the sport and the BHA, initially in the very short term.

“The first and immediate priority was to establish the facts as to how the prohibited substances came to be present in the horses' samples. Secondly, in view of the potential repercussions for the sport and the profile of the races for which some of the horses held entries, it was in the public's interest, as well as that of BHA and Godolphin, to progress the Disciplinary procedures as quickly as possible.

“Both of these objectives have now been met and I would like to publicly thank the staff at the BHA and the team at HFL Sport Science who have worked around the clock on the case to achieve the outcome of today's Disciplinary Panel hearing. This rapid resolution would also not have been possible without the full cooperation of Godolphin and Sheikh Mohammed.

“The relevant Rules in this case are explicit in that the use of anabolic steroids in horses in the care of a licensed trainer is prohibited and that strict liability for everything administered to horses while they are in training lies with the trainer. The BHA's investigation has established that the substances in question were administered on the instruction of Mahmood Al Zarooni. The full details of this will be formally addressed in the Disciplinary Panel's findings, to be published in due course and once they are available.

“We believe that the 8 year disqualification issued to Mahmood Al Zarooni by the Disciplinary Panel, together with the six month racing restriction placed on the horses in question by the BHA, will serve to reassure the public, and the sport's participants, that use of performance-enhancing substances in British Racing will not be tolerated and that the sport has in place a robust and effective anti-doping and medication control programme.

“The next objective for BHA is to take the necessary steps to ensure that overall confidence in the integrity of the sport is not at risk. We welcome the proactive response of Godolphin and Sheikh Mohammed in announcing their intention to review the procedures of this stable and the need to ensure that all horses formerly trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni are tested and cleared before they race again.

“The BHA will conduct the testing of the horses with the analytical work being carried out by HFL Sport Science. Godolphin have stated they will cooperate fully with this process. In addition, we will also provide advice to Godolphin of necessary changes to its procedures and controls where appropriate, and this will be supported by Godolphin's own review.

“Naturally, the BHA will itself consider the wider issues raised by this matter and we will seek to ascertain and collate all other relevant information including where necessary interviewing other employees or contractors of Godolphin. As we do in all cases, as part of an ongoing process we will identify further areas for consideration which could be incorporated from this into our future sampling strategy.

“Finally, this case has served to highlight something that we were already aware of, in that there are inconsistencies across international racing jurisdictions regarding what substances are permitted to be used in training. While around the world, horseracing bodies quite rightly adopt a zero tolerance policy to the presence of anabolic steroids when carrying out post-race testing, the approach is not so consistent for horses in training.

“In an age of increasing international travel and competition we will put the subject on the agenda for discussion with our international colleagues.”

BHA statement regarding suspension of 15 Godolphin horses in the care of Mahmood Al Zarooni:

Jamie Stier, Director of Raceday Operations and Regulation for the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), said:

“The BHA has today informed Godolphin, the owners of the horses in question, that the 15 horses known to have been administered with either Ethylestranol or Stanozolol have been suspended from running in races for a period of six months, with effect from Tuesday 9th April 2013.

“The length of suspension reflects the period beyond which the BHA is confident that the horses in question can have derived no performance related benefit from the administration of these prohibited substances.

The decision regarding the suspension was made by the BHA, not by the Disciplinary Panel who are hearing the enquiry. The enquiry started as scheduled at 2.30pm.

1. This suspension has been imposed by the BHA and is separate from the Disciplinary Panel hearing involving Mahmood Al Zarooni.

2. The suspension relates to the following horses:

ARTIGIANO (USA)
BATHRAT AMAL (JPN)
CERTIFY (USA)
COMITAS
DESERT BLOSSOM (IRE)
FAIR HILL
GHOSTFLOWER (IRE)
OPINION POLL (IRE)
ORKNEY ISLAND
RESTRAINT OF TRADE (IRE)
SASHIKO
SWEET ROSE
TEARLESS
VACATIONER
VALLEY OF QUEENS (IRE)

3. The suspension will end on Tuesday 8th October 2013 and the horses will be free to race again from Wednesday 9th October 2013.

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