LONDON // Eleven horses at Mahmoud Al Zarooni’s Moulton Paddocks Stables in England have tested positive for banned substances, and the Godolphin trainer has accepted responsibility for the infractions, according to the racing operation’s website.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) carried out routine tests two weeks ago on 45 horses at the Newmarket base of the Dubai World Cup-winning trainer, and 11 returned positive tests for anabolic steroids, the racing authority reported on Monday.
Among the horses to test positive include Certify, one of the favourites for the English 1,000 Guineas, which is staged in two weeks, and Opinion Poll, the inaugural Dubai Gold Cup winner. Al Zarooni has taken responsibility for tests which showed “traces of prohibited substances”, according to godolphin.com. The BHA identified the substances as the steroids ethylestranol and stanozolol.
“I deeply regret what has happened,” Al Zarooni said in a statement released by Goldolphin on Monday night. “I have made a catastrophic error. Because the horses involved were not racing at the time, I did not realise that what I was doing was in breach of the rules of racing.
“I can only apologise for the damage this will cause to Godolphin and to racing generally.”
Godolphin was set up in 1992 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Al Zarooni joined the organisation in 2010 after stints as an assistant to Ali Rashid Al Raihe, Mubarak bin Shafya and Saeed bin Suroor.
“This is a dark day for Godolphin. We are all shocked by what has happened,” Simon Crisford, Godolphin’s racing manager, said, according to the organisation.
“His Highness Sheikh Mohammed was absolutely appalled when he was told and this is completely unacceptable to him. We will await the outcome of the BHA inquiry before taking any further internal action.
“Sheikh Mohammed has instructed me to begin an urgent review of all of our procedures and controls. That is already under way and we will take advice from the BHA in completing it.”
The positive tests mean that Certify will not be permitted to take her chance in the opening British Classic of the season on May 5, having remained in Britain with the express aim of handing Al Zarooni a second win in the race, following Blue Bunting in 2011.
According to Adam Bicknell, director of Integrity, Legal and Risk at the BHA, none of the 11 horses will be permitted to compete on British racecourses for an extended period of time.
“Ethylestranol and stanozolol are anabolic steroids and therefore prohibited substances under British Rules of Racing, at any time - either in training or racing,” Bicknell said. “Mahmoud Al Zarooni has been advised of the analysts’ findings and has been visited by an investigating officer. The horses which have produced positive tests will also not be permitted to race with immediate effect. The BHA understand the importance of this process being carried out as quickly as possible.”
A disciplinary-panel inquiry into the findings of the BHA analysts will take place at the first available opportunity, which is likely to be by the end of the week.
Al Zarooni could lose his racing license; in 2011, the trainer Howard Johnson was banned for one year after three of his horses tested positive for steroids.
The BHA would not state last night for how long Al Zarooni might be suspended.
Al Zarooni’s Mariner’s Cross and Lyric Of Light tested positive for propoxyphene through a urine sample last season.
In August, Al Zarooni was fined £1,000 (Dh4,792) for the breach, for which the BHA could find no source of the substance.
Al Zarooni has enjoyed consider success with Godolphin. Just three days after being handed a licence by Sheikh Mohammed, the trainer sent out Calming Influence to win the 2010 Godolphin Mile.
The trainer’s biggest success came on Dubai World Cup night last season when he saddled Monterosso, which beat stablemate Capponi at Meydan Racecourse to win the world’s richest race.
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