Dubai’s ruler, angered by a doping scandal involving his Godolphin racing operation in Britain, is to make the use of anabolic steroids a criminal offence in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is vice-president of the UAE and prime minister and ruler of Dubai, has ordered the drafting of a decree rendering the import, sale, purchase and use of anabolic steroids in all horse-related sports in the UAE a criminal offence.
The decree is to have immediate effect.
“I have always believed in the integrity of horse racing and all other horse sports,” the Sheikh said.
“I have, in light of the unfortunate recent event, directed that a decree be issued making, with immediate effect, the import, sale, purchase or use of anabolic steroids in horse sports a criminal offence under the UAE penal laws.”
Referring to the Godolphin case, in which his trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni was busted after positive steroid tests on 11 horses, the sheikh said: “Regrettably, one of my stables in Europe has recently fallen below the standards that I expect and will tolerate.
“As soon as the internal investigations are complete and the requisite pre-emptory rules are put in place, Godolphin will go from strength to strength and lead, once again, adhering to the highest standards in that gracious sport.”
Before the decree, the use of steroids in horses in the UAE was legal, provided the drugs were not present in the horse’s system on race day.
Al Zarooni received an eight-year ban from the British Horseracing Authority after tests revealed anabolic steroids in 11 horses under his care at the Moulton Paddocks Stable in Newmarket, which is part of the sheikh’s racing interests in Britain.
Al Zarooni admitted during the disciplinary hearing that four other horses not tested by the authority had also received steroids.
Subsequent testing of all Godolphin horses, numbering nearly 400, revealed seven more positive results, all in horses that had been under Al Zarooni’s control.
Al Zarooni is appealing the length of his ban.