Godolphin, the thoroughbred racing operation of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum in Britain, is under a cloud after revelations 11 horses have tested positive for banned anabolic steroids.
Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni has admitted to what he described as a catastrophic error.
Sheikh Mohammed, the husband of FEI president Princess Haya, is reported to be appalled at the news and will look at taking internal action following the outcome of inquiries by racing authorities.
Al Zarooni, one of the highest profile trainers in European racing, is to attend a British Horseracing Authority (BHA) disciplinary as a result of serious irregularities in samples taken from horses in his care at Moulton Paddocks, Newmarket.
Following an inspection of Zarooni’s stable by officials from the authority, traces of prohibited substances were discovered in several horses tested, including Certify.
The authority has advised that, as a result, the filly will not be allowed to take part in the Qipco 1000 Guineas at Newmarket next month.
Al Zarooni has admitted that he was responsible for the administration of the prohibited substances, the Godolphin operation said in a statement.
Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said: “This is a dark day for Godolphin. We are all shocked by what has happened.
“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.”
Al Zarooni said: “I deeply regret what has happened. 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 said it would make no further comment pending the completion of the BHA investigation and inquiry.
The BHA said the samples were taken as part of its “testing in training” on April 9 from from 45 horses trained by Al Zarooni at Moulton Paddocks Stables.
Eleven of the samples contained prohibited substances, with ethylestranol found in samples from Desert Blossom,
Certify, Fair Hill, Ghostflower, Orkney Island, Sweet Rose, and Valley Of Queens. Stanozolol was found in samples from Artigiano, Bathrat Amal, Opinion Poll and Restraint Of Trade.
The BHA’s director of integrity, Adam Brickell, said: “Ethylestranol and stanozolol are anabolic steroids and therefore prohibited substances under British Rules of Racing, at any time – either in training or racing.
“Mahmood Al Zarooni has been advised of the analysts’ findings and has been visited by an investigating officer.
“A disciplinary panel inquiry into the analysts’ findings will take place at the first available opportunity. The horses which have produced positive tests will also not be permitted to race with immediate effect and for an extended period of time.”