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Eight-year ban for Al Zarooni

ESPN staff
April 24, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »

Mahmood Al Zarooni has been suspended for eight years following a British Horseracing Authority investigation into drug use on his horses.

Al Zarooni went before a British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel on Thursday afternoon after tests showed traces of anabolic steroids in 11 of his horses.

He had been officially charged with rule breaches related to prohibited substances, duty to keep medication records, and conduct prejudicial to racing after tests were carried out on 45 horses Al Zarooni's Moulton Paddocks Stables.

The BHA issued the 15 horses - including former 1000 Guineas favourite Certify - involved in the saga with six-month suspensions from running, all of which have had their bans backdated to April 9 when the BHA obtained their first samples. And later in the evening confirmation came of Al Zarooni's ban from training.

Accompanied by Godolphin's racing manager Simon Crisford, Al Zarooni was greeted by a media scrum upon his arrival at the hearing in central London. He went before a three-person panel and was found guilty of administering ethylestranol to seven horses and stanozolol to a further four.

Mahmood Al Zarooni's big-race wins

  • Monterosso - 2012 Dubai World Cup
    Encke - 2012 St Leger
    Certify - 2012 Fillies' Mile
    Cappoli - 2012 Al Maktoum Challenge
    Rewilding - 2011 Dubai Sheeman Classic
    Rewilding - 2011 Prince Of Wales Stakes
    Blue Bunting - 2011 1000 Guineas
    Blue Bunting - 2011 Irish Oaks
    Blue Bunting - 2011 Yorkshire Oaks
    Lyric Of Light - 2011 Fillies' Mile

The seven horses who tested positive for ethylestranol were Certify, Desert Blossom, Fair Hill, Ghostflower, Orkney Island, Sweet Rose and Valley Of Queens. Artigiano, Bathrat Amal, Opinion Poll and Restraint Of Trade tested positive for stanozolol. Al Zarooni admitted giving substances to Comitas, Sashiko, Vacationer and Tearless, who were not tested.

Speaking following the enquiry, BHA chief executive Paul Bittar: "These are exceptional circumstances but the outcome is an endorsement for BHA testing procedures.

"The panel has determined that the drugs were administered on Al Zarooni's instructions. This case has shown there is no place for performance-enhancing drugs in our sport and we have a robust testing system."

Al Zarooni left the hearing without comment but a statement on his behalf read: "I would like to apologise to Sheikh Mohammed, as well as to all those involved with Godolphin and the public who follow British Racing.

"I accept that it was my responsibility to be aware of the rules regarding the use of prohibited substances in Britain. I can only apologise and repeat what I said in my statement earlier in the week, I have made a catastrophic error."

Crisford said that Al Zarooni had acted with "awful recklessness" and was categorical that Sheikh Mohammed had no prior knowledge of the affair.

At a press conference following the announcement, it emerged that two yard foremen and a vet's assistant were involved - although Crisford stated that "the vet's assistant had no idea what he was injecting. He had a direct order from the trainer."

Crisford added: "This is a terrible situation. It's an awful situation that Godolphin has found themselves in. I think it will take a very long time for Godolphin to regain the trust of the British public.

"We're shocked and completely outraged by the actions he has taken."

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