Dubai prince in horse doping scandal


Sheikh Mohammed, center, during the Dubai World Cup on March 30

Ali Haider/European Pressphoto Agency: Sheikh Mohammed, center, during the Dubai World Cup on March 30.

From the New York Times in the USA:

April 23, 2013, 9:14 am

Horse Doping Scandal Rocks Dubai’s Rulers

By HARVEY MORRIS

LONDON — The horseracing world has been shaken to its fetlocks by revelations of a doping scandal at the top prize-winning Godolphin stable, owned by Dubai’s ruling Maktoum family.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s ruler, was described as “absolutely appalled” by the announcement on Monday that 11 Godolphin thoroughbreds trained at Newmarket, the home of British horseracing, had tested positive for banned steroids.

In what one racing commentator described as “one of the biggest doping scandals of modern times,” Mahmoud Al Zarooni, one of Godolphin’s top trainers, admitted responsibility for administering the drugs in what he said was a “catastrophic error.”

Simon Crisford, Godolphin racing manager, said, “This is a dark day for Godolphin. We are all shocked by what has happened.”

According to Cornelius Lysaght, the BBC’s racing correspondent, Sheikh Mohammed’s legendary hands-on approach has been responsible for turning Godolphin into one of the few top players in racing, and the Maktoum family has helped transform Dubai into a world center for sport and leisure.

“Yet, apparently right under their noses, perhaps racing’s greatest ever drugs scandal has unfolded,” Mr. Lysaght wrote.

Godolphin was set up in 1992 to take advantage of the climate in Dubai, where the Maktoum horses spend the winter at a state-of-the-art training center in preparation for the most prestigious races around the world.

The ruling family went on to establish the $10 million Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest horse race. This year Godolphin was the leading owner at the event for the sixth straight year.

Dubai is currently involved in a project to boost China’s nascent racing industry. Meydan Group, a government-owned developer that runs the Dubai track, said it plans to host an international meeting there this year.

As a Godolphin trainer since 2010, Mr. Zarooni has added to its string of track victories, including a win at last year’s Dubai event with Monterosso, owned by Sheikh Hamdan, crown prince of the Arabian Gulf emirate.

The British Horseracing Authority announced on Monday it would hold a disciplinary inquiry after traces of two banned anabolic steroids were found in samples taken from 11 horses trained by Mr. Zarooni. They were among 45 animals tested at the Moulton Paddocks stables in Newmarket.

They include the American-bred Certify, a three-year-old filly that has now been pulled from the One Thousand Guineas, next week’s British classic.

The Daily Mail said the ban on the horses that tested positive would be “hugely embarrassing” for Sheikh Mohammed.

Mr. Zarooni, who now faces a training ban, said he deeply regretted what had happened. “Because the horses involved were not racing at the time, I did not realize that what I was doing was in breach of the rules of racing,” he said, according to the Godolphin Web site.

Dubai royal Sheikh Rashid bin Mohammed, whose death at the age of 33 due to a heart attack was announced over the weekend, was a horse racing enthusiast whose public profile was shaped largely by his sporting interests – and damaging claims about his personal life. Dubai royal found some success as a sportsman, but had his political role curtailed amid allegations of drug taking and the alleged slaying of a secretary: here.

7 thoughts on “Dubai prince in horse doping scandal

  1. Horses have been illegally assisted to race better than their natural ability for a century and only now as technology and timing gets its act together can we determine the extent of tracing detectable forbidden substances being used. In the 60’s we had a conveniently Ireland based based USA backed operation that won classics galore and the gullibles believed it was the maestro who got thwe best out of US bred horses.

    It has always been a cat and mouse game betwen doper and testers in the same way corporate tax evasion and tax legislation. As one door or window closes a better onr opens. Now they re using male hormones et al on fillies and mares that are not as yet detectable.

    Where theres real money theres cheating…thats the capitalist ethic where it is OK unless you get caught. Even here I would suggest that some yards are not tested and or are told in advance if the boys are coming in.

    The racing public are so gullible…..

    Like

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