• Horse racing

'Dark day' for Godolphin after steroid revelations

ESPN staff
April 23, 2013
Certify will not race in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket © PA Photos

Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni will face a British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel after 11 horses in his care at Newmarket were found to contain traces of anabolic steroids.

Al Zarooni, a Classic-winning trainer who is widely respected within the sport, said he had made a "catastrophic error" in his treatment of the Godolphin horses, which include Gold Cup runner-up Opinion Poll and the undefeated Certify.

Certify will now not be allowed to run in the forthcoming 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, where he had been considered one of the pre-race favourites.

Al Zarooni has admitted to administering the prohibited substances, including the steroids ethylestranol and stanozolol, but says he only did so outside competition and did not realise he was contravening horse racing rules.

"I deeply regret what has happened. I have made a catastrophic error," Al Zarooni said on Godolphin's official website. "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."

In a statement, Godolphin added: "Following an inspection of Al Zarooni's stable by officials from the BHA, traces of prohibited substances were discovered in a number of the horses tested, including Certify. The BHA 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."

Godolphin is owned by Sheikh Mohammed, who was said to be "appalled" by the news. Racing manager Simon Crisford described it as a "dark day" for the stables.

"We are all shocked by what has happened," Crisford said. "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."

On April 9, the BHA obtained samples from 45 horses trained by Zarooni at Moulton Paddocks Stables. On Monday afternoon, it received written confirmation from the Horseracing Forensic Laboratory that 11 of those substances had returned evidence of prohibited substances.

Adam Brickell, director of integrity, legal and risk for the BHA, 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, confirmed details of which will follow when available.

"The horses 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 imposed for.

"The BHA understand the importance of this process being carried out as quickly as possible because of implications for betting markets."

A date for the hearing has yet to be confirmed.

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