July 15, 2024

Al Zarooni handed eight-year ban by BHA, affected horses out for six months

Last updated: 4/25/13 4:44 PM

Al Zarooni handed eight-year ban by BHA, affected horses
out for six months

Mahmood Al Zarooni was disqualified for eight
years by a disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) in London
on Thursday. As
a result of the Godolphin trainer’s admission that he had used anabolic steroids
on some of the horses in his Moulton Paddocks stable, the 37-year-old was handed
the ban and also learned that the 15 horses in question would be unable to race
for six months.

Accompanied at the hearing by Godolphin’s Racing Manager
Simon Crisford, Al Zarooni gave details of how he had administered the
prohibited substances Ethylestranol to seven horses and Stanozolol to four, with
a further four in his charge untested by the BHA also revealed to have been
given steroids. They include the unbeaten Group 1 Fillies’ Mile heroine Certify, who, like the other
horses, will be unable to race until October 9.

After the three-person panel had outlined rule breaches
related to prohibited substances, the failure to keep proper medication records
and conduct prejudicial to horseracing, Al Zarooni was handed the significant

“We believe
that it is recognized 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 caliber of the horses involved,” Paul Bittar, chief executive of the BHA,
said in a statement. “However, we
also believe the outcome is an endorsement for the effectiveness of British
Racing’s dope testing program.

“On April 9, 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 program. As soon as the nature and number of positives
became apparent, we recognized 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.

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 eight-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 program.

“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

“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.”

Simon Crisford revealed that Al Zarooni administered the
banned substances with two foremen and a vet’s assistant.

“The vet’s assistant
had no idea what he was injecting,” Crisford confirmed. “He had a direct order
from the trainer. Everybody knows that you can’t use steroids in England.”

then added on Al Zarooni’s behalf, “I would like to apologize to Sheikh
Mohammed, all at Godolphin and fans of British racing.”

In conclusion, the
racing manager said, “We hired Mahmood as there were too many horses for Saeed
bin Suroor. I recommended Mahmood and it’s proved to be poor judgment.”

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