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.”
2. Some information regarding the testing of horses in British Racing can be found below:
There are two forms of testing carried out by the BHA in Britain – raceday testing and testing in training.
Number of runners – 90,174
Number of post-race samples – 7,182
Number of positives – 14
Positives as a percentage of runners – 0.19%
Number of runners – 94,786
Number of post-race samples – 7,619
Number of positives – 13
Positives as a percentage of runners – 0.17%
Number of runners – 92,025
Number of post-race samples – 7,952
Number of positives – 25
Positives as a percentage of runners – 0.31%
Testing in Training
Between 600-700 tests were carried out in 2012 as part of the 'testing in training' sampling programme. There could be a number of reasons why a yard could be idenitified for testing in training but we do not disclose the strategy for this.
The average racehorse population in training at any one time was around 14,000 in 2012.
8 year suspension?!?! wow, can you imagine any goverening body in this country giving that out for drugs? 15 offenses later maybe. Nice to see, well handled, polite and a little slap at the rest of the world.
I always wonder why these people do this. Do they really think they aren't going to get caught??? I know stupid question.
Anabolic steroids are legal in most parts of the world, including the US. They just can't be in the horse come raceday. Britain and Ireland are the exception in that they do not allow their use at all no matter how far out from raceday.
It's not inconceivable that al Zarooni was not hip to this, especially given he spends half the year in Dubai where anabolic a can be given with long enough withdrawal. Not that that excuses what he did, but there's a good chance it was the "catastrophic error" he claimed and not some nefarious plot to cheat.
it does raise the interesting question of horses from other jurisdictions going to race in England, especially the Aussie sprinters at Royal Ascot. The Aussie trainers readily admit that they put their horses on a regimen of steroids in the off season and wean them off closer to raceday. That practice would get an English trainer banned for years. So it's not a level playing field
Are you seriously saying that if you move to GB or Ireland to train race horses, you do not bother to check the rules ? (They are available to all and sundry)
Give me a break.
I figured reading comprehension wasn't your strongest suit.
It's quite possible he didn't read all the rules. Not everyone does. The BHA Rules of Racing is a 100+ pages. There is one reference to Anabolics buried in there.
Anabolics are standard the world over. They are not allowed on raceday anywhere (now that the US has come in line and outlawed them), but they are allowed everywhere outside of raceday.... with just two exceptions, IRE and GB.
Several of the Aussie trainers interviewed recently had no idea that there was an across the board AS prohibition in GB, and these are guys who had sent horses to Royal Ascot. They knew it wasn't supposed to be in the system on raceday, but had no idea you couldn't use it up to the withdrawal time. Lucky for them their withdrawal time coincided with the time they shipped.
Go ahead and believe he is an evil fucker if you want.
I'm inclined to think he made a monumental fuck-up and he's paying the price.
However Godolphin has been there for decades and one would think (especially considering Sheik Mohammad's suspension by the FEI for riding a steroid drugged horse in endurance racing, and then proclaiming his dedication to cleaning up horse sport) that any trainer employed by Godolphin would have a basic grasp of the rules, especially doping rules.
Sheik Mohammad didn't just fall off the turnip truck. If he really can't get people from the UAE that are capable then he should have stuck with the British trainers who know the rules. Apparently he prefers trainers from the UAE because the British trainers aren't "respectful" enough of his highness.
ETA; A case of ego interfering with common sense..