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Sheikh orders total lockdown


Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni will stand before a disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority on Thursday afternoon

Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni will stand before a disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority on Thursday afternoon

Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni will stand before a disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority on Thursday afternoon

Sheikh Mohammed took the dramatic step of closing down Mahmood Al Zarooni's Newmarket yard on the eve of the trainer's appearance before the British Horseracing Authority to face breaches of the Rules of Racing after admitting doping horses.

In the latest twist to British racing's most outrageous drugs scandal, the world's biggest owner, with a global empire estimated to stretch beyond 5,000 thoroughbreds, has also made the unprecedented move of ordering all horses in the yard – there are believed to be around 150 – to be blood tested for evidence of outlawed drugs.

He said the stable, Moulton Paddocks, would remain closed until he could be sure they were clean.

A statement issued by Sheikh Mohammed, in his role as the head of Godolphin, made it clear that Dubai's ruler had been caused acute embarrassment by the episode, which seems certain to end with a lengthy disqualification for Al Zarooni (pictured), who had admitted his guilt from the earliest stages of a BHA investigation. His hearing begins in London this afternoon.

Sheikh Mohammed reiterated that he was appalled and angered that one of Godolphin's Newmarket stables had violated his outfit's ethical standards, as well as the Rules of Racing. As a consequence, he was clearly taking serious measures in an attempt to restore some of Godolphin's reputation.

"We will be locking down the Moulton Paddocks stables with immediate effect, and I have instructed that I want a full round of blood samples and dope testing done on every horse on that premises," he said in a statement that appeared on the Godolphin website.

"No horse will run from that yard until I have been absolutely assured by my team that the entire yard is completely clean."

Meanwhile, Al Zarooni (37) faces multiple charges of having breached the Rules of Racing under three separate headings, which relate to, first, the liability of trainers in relation to administering of prohibited substances (Rule (C) 50); second, the duty of trainers to keep medication records of horses in their care (Rule (C) 13); and thirdly, prejudicing the good reputation of horse racing in Britain (Rule (A) 30).

The charges relate to two forbidden drugs being administered to 11 horses, which all tested positive to BHA tests carried out following a random swoop on the yard on April 9 after two of the trainer's horses had failed tests in the previous 12 months.

Al Zarooni has since admitted to the BHA that a further four horses, which were not tested then, were also given the outlawed drugs. The four horses are Comitas, Sashiko, Vacationer and Tearless.

The trainer faces a maximum of 10 years' disqualification according to the BHA's published guidelines, but Robin Mounsey, spokesman for the BHA, said the disciplinary panel has the right to extend bans beyond those boundaries.

Al Zarooni will be legally represented at the closed inquiry by Gavin Bacon, while the BHA will have Graham McPherson.

Simon Crisford, the racing manager for Godolphin, is also expected to attend at the hearing, which has been arranged with unprecedented speed by the authorities, although Mounsey explained this had been for good reason.

"We have had full cooperation from day one from Godolphin and Mahmood Al Zarooni," he said.

The BHA have refused to discuss details of the case prior to the hearing but a line of questioning expected is a request to Al Zarooni to explain how he was able to carry out such an extensive and audacious programme of doping under the noses of his bosses and staff, how he was able to import anabolic steroids that are banned in Britain, and who paid for the drugs.

The format that the findings of the three-man panel will take, and how and when they will be presented to the public, has yet to be disclosed. But this is a case that has attracted headlines worldwide, painting British racing in a very poor light.

It will be important that the BHA, who have acted efficiently in their raid on the stable, and swiftly in their organisation of the hearing, successfully complete the exercise by delivering a published result that is accurate, plausible, and a document representing justice. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent