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Disgraced trainer disqualified for doping Dubai ruler's star horses

Disgraced racehorse trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni paid the ultimate penalty for his deception yesterday when he was disqualified from racing.

His punishment for doping 15 horses owned by Godolphin, the largest racing organisation on the planet, means he cannot set foot on a racecourse or a training stable until 2021, which in reality means he is finished in the sport.

Al Zarooni (37) a man from the United Arab Emirates with Western ambitions, was a high-flyer who quickly made his mark and was heading for the pinnacle before he made the catastrophic blunder that brought shame on himself, his employer Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai, as well as his native country.

The trainer pleaded guilty to multiple charges of breaching the Rules of Racing, under the headings of trainers administering outlawed drugs, their responsibility for keeping veterinary records and bringing the sport into disrepute.

It was revealed at yesterday's lengthy hearing that Al Zarooni had sourced two separate anabolic steroids in Dubai and had illegally imported them into Britain.

He admitted having three accomplices in committing the breaches, two foremen employed by Godolphin and a vet's assistant.

They will be caught up in a major inquiry that will be launched into the Godolphin stable and its managerial procedures.

The horses, which tested positive, have been suspended from racing for six months.

Desert Blossom, Certify, Fair Hill, Ghostflower, Orkney Island, Sweet Rose and Valley Of Queens all tested positive for ethylestranol, while another four horses, Artigiano, Bathrat Amal, Opinion Poll and Restraint Of Trade, tested positive for stanozolol.

Paul Bittar, the chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority, called the hearing as "the end of the beginning".

Reckless

Simon Crisford, manager for Godolphin, called Al Zarooni "a reckless person, who showed no respect for horse racing".

He added that regaining the trust of the public was going to be "a lengthy process" for Godolphin, who have another stable in Newmarket under the care of Saeed bin Suroor that is not linked to this case.

Either a manic determination to satisfy the demands of his employer, or the pressures of rivalry with the sister yard in Sheikh Mohammed's mammoth private stable, have cost Al Zarooni his job and Godolphin its reputation.

It has taken just weeks for his mindless blunders, breaching the most fundamental rules in the sport, to bring the world's biggest stable to its knees.

Ironically, Sheikh Mohammed himself is known to have first noted the trainer as a rising star. Al Zarooni had been assistant to Ali Rashid Al Raihe, the leading trainer in the UAE, and then Mubarak Bin Shafya, and he had a background in endurance racing, a discipline that has long fascinated Sheikh Mohammed. But yesterday Mr Crisford took responsibility for having employed Al Zarooni. "I recommended his appointment, which was very poor judgment."

His appointment on 24 March 2010 gave Al Zarooni access to some of the best horses in the Godolphin organisation and he won major races with them, including last year's St Leger when Encke deprived Coolmoore's very smart colt Camelot of the Triple Crown. A brilliant future has now been needlessly thrown away. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent