Princess Haya steps in after latest drugs incident

Hugh Thomas, pictured with FEI president Princess Haya at Badminton last year.
Princess Haya with Hugh Thomas at Badminton last year. Thomas was the 2012 Badminton course designer. © Al Crook

Dubai’s ruler is reported to have asked his wife, Princess Haya, to conduct an inquiry after yet another embarrassing drugs incident around his extensive horse interests, British media report.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has been angered by several incidents around drugs, most notably the use of anabolic steroids among 22 out-of-competition thoroughbreds at Newmarket’s Moulton Paddock stables, part of his Godolphin racing empire.

Dubai-born trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni admitted the racing offences, saying he thought it was acceptable in Britain to use steroids in out-of-competition horses in the British racing jurisdiction. He received an eight-year ban from British racing authorities.

Later, authorities were to seize horse drugs linked to the endurance side of the sheikh’s British operation in August at Moorley Farm in Newmarket. While there was nothing illegal about the drugs – they were all procurable in Britain – authorities were apparently concerned about their importation.

Now, the Guardian newspaper reports that the sheikh has appointed Haya, who is currently serving as president of the FEI, to conduct an inquiry after a shipment of unlicensed veterinary drugs, apparently intended for use on horses, were seized from a Dubai government jet at Stansted airport in Essex on May 3.

The Guardian said that thousands of pounds worth of unlicensed products, including steroidal injections, anaesthetics, sedatives and anti-inflammatories, were seized and destroyed by the UK Border Agency and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate after the arrival of a Dubai Royal Air Wing flight.

The Guardian described the sheikh as extremely concerned by the most recent developments.

Following the Al Zarooni scandal, the sheikh ordered a review of internal operations and went on to criminalize the use of anabolic steroids in racehorses in his home nation.

According to the Guardian, the shipment seized at Stansted, reportedly labelled incorrectly as “horse tack”, did not include anabolic steroids, but there were significant quantities of goods understood to be for use on endurance horses.

A spokesman for Haya told the Guardian: “Nobody seems to know in the organisation who is buying what or where. That’s one of the reforms that they want in place. We’re trying to find out what happened, why it happened and to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

He went on: “I can assure you that Sheikh Mohammed was not aware of any such products in the cargo of any Dubai Royal Air Wing flight into Stansted on that date.”

The Guardian said Haya sent out a directive to various division of the sheikh’s equine operation on September 12, including Darley and Godolphin, outlining plans to to establish a centralised auditing system to maintain control over the purchase and movement of veterinary products.

Haya is said to have written: “I wish for all managers to accept the responsibilities that their position bestows on them and to ensure that all efforts are made to protect the good name of the Maktoum family at all times.”


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