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Sunday 27, Oct 2013

  BHA Looks Ahead To IFHA Debate

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BHA Looks Ahead To IFHA Debate

Paul Bittar, chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), has outlined his hopes with the sessions at the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA).

In May this year, the BHA wrote to the IFHA and sought its support for promoting international harmonization amongst all racing nations regarding anabolic steroids. The existence of inconsistencies among racing authorities had been highlighted following finding by BHA of prohibited substances in horses trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni who was later banned for eight years.

The BHA chief executive expressed support for introducing a minimum standard across racing nations and the commitment of British Racing to exceeding that minimum standard wherever possible. Bittar said the BHA strongly believes that there is a need to establish a minimum international standard relating to the use of anabolic steroids in horseracing and we welcome the opportunity for this to be discussed in detail amongst major racing nations. He added with horseracing subject to increasing levels of international competition, it is in the interests of the sport globally to develop a position which provides a level playing field for all participants. Bittar added that announcements regarding changes by the authorities in Dubai and, more recently, Australia, and New Zealand are welcome and have added momentum to the debate.

Bittar added the events of this year, together with the inconsistencies that exist across racing nations, have made it apparent that the control and regulation of the use of anabolic steroids in racing is a complex issue. The BHA chief executive added that our initial objective is to support the IFHA in producing a minimum standard all racing authorities could sign up to. He went on to remark however, subsequent to the conference the BHA intends to continue work on establishing a revised position that is relevant for British Racing and comprised of effective and enforceable measures. Bittar also remarked it is anticipated that this position will exceed the minimum standard in several areas and any amendments to our Rules will provide for the implementation and enforcement of the minimum standard. He also said we anticipate this process, including all necessary consultation, will be completed early in 2014.

Bittar recently remarked that BHA will investigate whether it will be able to follow the lead set by the Australian Racing Board and introduce a blanket ban on the use of anabolic steroids in horses, both in and out of competition. Peter McGauran, the chief executive of Australian Racing Board, had remarked that the ban on anabolic steroids goes far beyond any other racing jurisdiction outside Europe and was decided by the ARB after lengthy consideration of veterinary and scientific advice and consultation with trainers’ and owners’ associations. He added the ARB has adopted a zero tolerance policy to the use of anabolic steroids in competition, training and spelling [pre-training] and will institute heavy penalties for breaches of the ban. In response, Bittar said he was hopeful that the Zarooni scandal could bring about some movement towards harmonization but he wasn’t expecting Australia to go that far, that quickly.

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Tuesday 18, Jun 2013

  Doping Trainer Drops Appeal

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Doping Trainer Drops Appeal

Former Godolphin handler Mahmood Al Zarooni has withdrawn his appeal over the severity of the eight-year ban imposed on him from training. After this, the British Horseracing Authority will now consider if further action against Zarooni is appropriate.

The BHA received notice from the solicitors of Mahmood Al Zarooni that he has withdrawn his appeal regarding his eight-year disqualification, according to BHA spokesman Robin Mounsey who further added that our investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Al Zarooni case continues. He also remarked that the aim of this investigation is to understand the environment within which such serious breaches came to be committed, and identify what measures are needed to ensure the yard operates in accordance with the Rules in future and the findings will be shared with Godolphin and will also assist the BHA with regard to the future licensing of the yard. Mounsey also remarked that no representation has as yet been made by either party regarding the return of the deposit or any costs incurred.

After having offered no defense after being found guilty of treating 15 horses, Zarooni surprised many by launching an appeal against the ban. His chances of success in that appeal were reduced dramatically after anabolic steroids were discovered in the systems of an additional seven of his horses, including Encke, the winner of last year’s St Leger.

In the most serious doping scandal in the history of BHA, 11 horses trained by Mahmood al-Zarooni tested positive for anabolic steroids. The news of the doping scandal first appeared in a statement on Godolphin’s website, and was confirmed afterwards by an official notification from the British Horseracing Authority. The trainer said he had made “a catastrophic error” and added that he could only apologize for the damage this will cause to Godolphin and to racing generally. After the news broke out, Simon Crisford, Godolphin’s racing manager, remarked his highness Sheikh Mohammed was absolutely appalled when he was told and this is completely unacceptable to him and we will await the outcome of the BHA inquiry before taking any further internal action.

After this, the investigators of the British Horseracing Authority obtained samples from 45 horses at Zarooni’s stable at Moulton Paddocks and seven horses 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 Stanozolol.

Adam Brickell, the director of integrity, legal and risk for the BHA, remarked at that time that Ethylestrenol and Stanozolol are anabolic steroids and therefore prohibited substances under British rules of racing, at any time – either in training or racing and Mahmood al-Zarooni has been advised of the analysts’ findings and has been visited by an investigating officer. He added the horses which have produced positive tests will also not be permitted to race with immediate effect and for an extended period of time and a decision as part of the ongoing process will be made as to what period this suspension will be imposed for. The 37-year-old Zarooni was officially charged with rule breaches related to prohibited substances, duty to keep medication records, and conduct prejudicial to racing and a ban of eight years was imposed on him.

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Monday 17, Jun 2013

  Dettori Says He Felt Like Lance Armstrong

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Dettori Says He Felt Like Lance Armstrong

Frankie Dettori, the 42-year-old horse racing jockey, has blamed disgraced Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni for the way his association of 18 months with Sheik Mohammed’s Godolphin unraveled that caused the cocaine lapse which resulted in a six-month ban on him from racing.

Dettori said he turned to drugs as ‘a cry for help’ and added that he traced his erosion as the No. 1 jockey of Godolphin back to the appointment of Zarooni in 2010, who was given a ban of eight years recently for giving banned anabolic steroids to 15 of his horses.

The jockey went on to add that the whole stable and not just him have been ruined by the tainted trainer and remarked that he had no evidence of drug-enhanced performances while riding horses trained by Al Zarooni. Dettori, who won 110 at Group One races for Godolphin, remarked he had the best job in the world with Godolphin but things changed for some reason and this reason was the new trainer, Al Zarooni.

After his positive test, Dettori remarked he is “ashamed and embarrassed” after admitting for the first time he used cocaine in 2012.  The Italian-born rider was suspended by French racing authority France Galop after returning a positive test following a routine examination at Longchamp on 16 September last year. Dettori remarked that the intense testing program before his scheduled comeback has left him feeling like disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong and said he has been tested 15 times in two months and testers come and knock at his door, any time of the day. His problems had aggravated with the Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O’Brien’s plan to name Dettori for the Derby. Meanwhile, the British Horseracing Authority has offered assurances that Dettori will be able to ride in Britain as soon as the French authorities pass him fit but the agent of Dettori has given up all hopes of him riding at Epsomon. The British Horseracing Authority’s licensing committee remarked his license cannot be formally issued while there remain some outstanding test results in France but as soon as France Galop confirms that these are clear the license will be issued and he can be formally booked for ride.

Solicitor Christopher Stewart-Moore after the ban on Dettori remarked the jockey is enormously grateful for the opportunities that he has been given by owners and trainers over the years, and for the support of his many fans and he is determined to rebuild his reputation when he returns to the saddle in six months’ time.

Lanfranco “Frankie” Dettori, Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE), is an Italian horse racing jockey and celebrity who has been Champion Jockey on three occasions and has ridden the winners of more than 500 Group races. In 1996, he had his most-celebrated achievement when he was riding all seven winners on British Champions’ Day at Ascot in 1996. Dettori is not the first rider to breach the French rules. Six-time champion jockey Kieren Fallon was banned for a period of six months by France Galop in 2006 and then suspended for a further 18 months after a second positive drugs test in August 2007.

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Saturday 04, May 2013

  Crisford ‘Betrayed’ By Shamed Trainer

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Crisford ‘Betrayed’ By Shamed Trainer

Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford “deeply regrets” the role played by him in hiring Mahmood Al Zarooni whom he recommended to Sheikh Mohammed, the tainted trainer who has admitted to administering anabolic steroids to 15 of his horses and subsequently getting himself banned for eight years.

Crisford said he told Zarooni about the importance of keeping his medical records up to date after two of his horses failed tests for painkillers last April and remarked a trainer is a licensed individual and it is his duty to take professional care of the horses in his stable. He also added that Zarooni used to run the day-to-day management, and his job is to look after the best interests of the owner and he simply cannot be aware of every single bit of medication that every horse in Godolphin is getting. Crisford added that Saeed bin Suroor and Mahmood Al Zarooni are supposed to be professional trainers and one of them clearly wasn’t.

Crisford went to add that it is deeply regrettable (that we hired him) and shows a remarkable lack of judgment on my part to recommend him to Sheikh Mohammed, which he did do and said when Zarooni’s horses failed the tests for painkillers last year, we sat down with him and told him he had to keep his records maintained in a much more efficient manner and he had had lengthy conversations with him about that but he is afraid Zarooni betrayed the trust we put in him and he’s let everybody down, not only Godolphin but the British public, too. The Godolphin racing manager also said we’ll have nothing to do with him again and I have no sympathy for him and also remarked that it will take a long time to recover from this, but Sheikh Mohammed will make sure everything is done and that the stable is 100% clean before any horses get transferred to any other stables. The racing manager added he hasn’t considered his position because I’ve been told to clear this mess up and that’s what he’ll be doing.

British Horseracing Authority chief executive Paul Bittar stressed the investigation is not yet complete and further charges could be brought against the other individuals that were involved. Bittar added that Zarooni’s and Saeed bin Suroor’s yards have been tested before and all those results came back negative.

In another development, Rachel Hood, president of the Racehorse Owners Association, added the ROA was profoundly disturbed by the findings that anabolic steroids had been administered to horses at Moulton Paddocks stables, and we wholeheartedly support the BHA’s disciplinary panel in imposing a lengthy ban on Al Zarooni. Hood also said our sport invests heavily in its integrity services, which includes the BHA undertaking over 8,000 drug tests annually, either on the racecourse or on a random basis at training yards. The ROA president also added that the fact that there have only been two cases of anabolic steroids being detected in recent years supports our view that this was an isolated incident.

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Friday 03, May 2013

  BHA Officials To Begin Strict Testing At Moulton Paddocks

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BHA Officials To Begin Strict Testing At Moulton Paddocks

Officials from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) are set to start strict testing at former trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni‘s yard.

Following a BHA hearing, Al Zarooni was banned for eight years after he admitted to administering anabolic steroids to 15 horses under his care at the Godolphin-owned stables in Newmarket. While eleven horses tested positive for banned substances following random checks on April 9, Al Zarooni admitted to giving the drugs to a further four horses. Each of those runners is now subject to a ban of six months from running.

Godolphin is run by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. One of the banned horses is Certify, the former 1,000 Guineas favorite, who will be clear to race again on 9 October 2013, as will the other 14 suspended thoroughbreds.

The BHA is due to start testing and chief executive Paul Bittar and Godolphin are currently tackling the issue of who will oversee the training of horses at the yard. Bittar said the BHA team is working with Godolphin to find an immediate solution to the issue and remarked this is done to ensure that the stable remains licensed, although there won’t be a licensed trainer and remarked there are two assistant trainers but neither of them is fully licensed. It’s likely that Godolphin’s other trainer Saeed Bin Suroor will have oversight for a lot of the horses or Godolphin may choose to decide that Moulton Paddocks will not be used at all during the course of the British summer. The BHA chief executive added Godolphin and Sheikh Mohammed have given us a commitment that they will cooperate fully with all of our requirements in terms of investigations and the BHA team will be at Al Zarooni’s stable to scan all the horses and do an inventory.

Bittar said he hoped the bans for Al Zarooni and the doped horses will serve to reassure the public, and the sport’s participants, that use of performance enhancing substances in British racing will not be tolerated and added we welcome the proactive response of Godolphin and Sheikh Mohammed in announcing their intention to review the procedures of this stable and the need to ensure that all horses formerly trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni are tested and cleared before they race again. He also added that the BHA will itself consider the wider issues that are raised by this matter and we will seek to ascertain and collate all other relevant information including, where necessary, interviewing other employees or contractors of Godolphin.

Meanwhile, Godolphin founder Sheikh Mohammed has been vocal in his condemnation of the doping incident and locked down the Moulton Paddocks yard until full testing of every horse is undertaken.

In another development, Godolphin’s racing manager Simon Crisford said Al Zarooni acted with recklessness and caused tremendous damage to Godolphin and British racing and he thinks it will take a very long time for Godolphin to regain the trust of the British public and said we’re shocked and completely outraged by the actions he has taken.

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Thursday 02, May 2013

  Newmarket Trainers In A State Of Shock

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Newmarket Trainers In A State Of Shock

After Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni was charged after tests found traces of anabolic steroids in 11 of his horses and subsequently banned, Newmarket trainers are in a state of shock.

While a few said they cannot get over how insane the whole thing is, others said the horses administered with steroids could have even won without them, while some believe a big stable like Godolphin should lead by example.

Michael Bell, one of Newmarket’s Derby-winning trainers, said the home-bred trainers are acutely aware of what drugs are legal and illegal and anyone who does it risks their license. Bell said one is putting his livelihood at stake if he uses illegal substances and so he would say it’s not an across-the-board problem and it appears to be one guy going off on his own, taking the law into his own hands. He also added by being tested, you get found out and there’s no escape.

John Berry, speaking at his yard in Newmarket’s Exeter Road, is not much confident about the existing system and said there are so many things about the affair that just defy belief but one of them is that he’s stupid enough to get caught pointing out that two horses of Zarooni tested positive for a painkiller last year and that therefore he would have known that he was odds-on to receive a spot-check at some point. The BHA investigation will continue with the testing of all horses at Moulton Paddocks, but Berry can see no point to that and said it won’t add to anyone’s knowledge of who’s had what, all it’ll do is tell us who’s got what in their system now. Berry also reports that the testers of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) descend unannounced on “a handful” of stables each year, which he believes is enough of a deterrent for most people but he also feels such measures have a limited impact as larger stables use pre-training yards and so if [drugs] were in any horse’s system, the ones who would have them in their system wouldn’t be present at the time anyway.

He went on to add that even though anabolic steroids can pass through a horse’s system in a short time, the benefit derived from them may last for much longer and a horse may spend months in a pre-training yard, getting daily doses of steroids, and the British Horseracing Authority would be unable to prove it as such yards are unlicensed and their testers have no right to enter them since horses are only required to be in a licensed yard for a fortnight before racing. Berry also said that anabolic steroids cannot be relied upon to improve a horse’s ability as they would a human athlete and added that if you could get a horse so that he was that much bulkier than the others, he’d probably break down and if you could get his blood so much richer than the others, he’d start bleeding. He also said there are optimum levels for everything and if it’s been routine to use this in Zarooni’s stable, his results suggest they’re more of a hindrance than a help.

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