Steroid rules around training ‘inconsistent’

Mahmood Al Zarooni
Mahmood Al Zarooni

British racing officials intend to discuss steroid use with their overseas counterparts following the drugs scandal involving trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni, who worked for Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Godolphin racing enterprise.

Al Zarooni was last week handed an eight-year ban after he acknowledged giving anabolic steroids to horses under his care.

Al Zarooni admitted what he called a catastrophic error in using the the two banned drugs, ethylestranol and stanozolol.

The hearing was held last Thursday afternoon, after 11 horses returned positive samples for the steroids following random testing of 45 horses at his Newmarket yard earlier this month.

It emerged that four other horses that were not tested had also been given steroids under Al Zarooni’s direction.

The chief executive of the British Horseracing authority, Paul Bittar, signalled that steroid use needed to be discussed by global racing authorities.

“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,” Bittar said.

“While around the world, horse-racing 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.

Paul Bittar
Paul Bittar

“In an age of increasing international travel and competition we will put the subject on the agenda for discussion with our international colleagues.”

Bittar said the circumstances around the Al Zarooni case were 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.”

Sheikh Mohammed has voiced his anger over the drugs breach.

“I have been involved in British horse racing for 30 years and have deep respect for its traditions and rules,” he said.

“I built my country based on the same solid principles. There can be no excuse for any deliberate violation.”

The sheikh has ordered a full internal review of processes at his Godolphin operation to ensure no repeat, and had signalled his intention to have all other horses under Al Zarooni’s care tested. Those tests will now be undertaken by the British Horseracing Authority.


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