Guineas hope Certify among horses affected
Al-Zarooni faces hearing
after 'dark day' for stable
British racing faces the most serious doping scandal in its history
following the disclosure on Monday evening that 11 horses trained by Mahmood
al-Zarooni, one of the powerful Godolphin operation's two principal trainers,
have tested positive for anabolic steroids. All 11, including Certify, a
leading contender for the 1,000 Guineas on Sunday week, have been banned from
racing for "an extended period of time".
The news that one of the most
high-profile trainers in European racing has been administering anabolic
steroids to his horses first appeared in a statement on Godolphin's website,
and was confirmed shortly afterwards by an official notification from the
British Horseracing Authority that Zarooni will face a disciplinary hearing at
a date to be confirmed.
who joined Godolphin in March 2010 and won the St Leger, one of Britain's five
classics, in his first season, admitted in the statement on www.godolphin.com
that he had made "a catastrophic error", and that "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."
Zarooni also expressed his "deep regret" for what had occurred,
adding that he could "only apologise for the damage this will cause to
Godolphin and to racing generally". Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager,
said on Monday that it had been "a dark day for Godolphin, and we are all
shocked by what has happened".
He added: "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
"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."
In all, BHA
investigators obtained samples from 45 horses at Zarooni's stable at Moulton
Paddocks, just outside Newmarket. Seven, including Certify, tested positive for
ethylestrenol, while four more, including Opinion Poll, the runner-up in the
Gold Cup at Royal Ascot last June, were found to have tested positive for
Anabolic steroids are the most serious of all potentially
performance-enhancing drugs that can be administered to horses, and their use
is subject to a blanket ban in racing yards, whether or not a horse is due to
contest a race in the near future.
Adam Brickell, the director of
integrity, legal and risk for the BHA, said that a disciplinary panel will be
convened to consider the case "at the first available opportunity".
added: "Ethylestrenol 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.
which have produced positive tests will also not be permitted to race with
immediate effect and for an extended period of time. As part of the ongoing
process, a decision will be made as to what period this suspension will be
"The BHA understands the importance of this process being
carried out as quickly as possible because of implications for betting
markets." Zarooni faces an extended, worldwide ban from racing if he is found
to be in breach of the anti-doping rules, and the near-certainty that he will
lose his position with Godolphin.
Certify had been one of the
favourites for the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket on 5 May, having completed an
unbeaten juvenile campaign with victory in the Group One Fillies' Mile in
October 2012 over the same course and distance as next month's classic.
She was also prominent in ante-post betting for the Oaks at Epsom on 31
May, and has been scratched from the lists by most bookmakers due to
uncertainty over how long she will be banned from racing.