Godolphin Trainer's Steroid Use Called 'Deliberate Flouting'

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA), in a recap of a hearing into trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni's admitted use of anabolic steroids in some of his racehorses, called it a "deliberate flouting" of the rules of racing.

The BHA published the document April 30, just days after Al Zarooni, who trained for Godolphin, was suspended for eight years for 11 positive tests for ethylestranol and stanozolol. Blood samples were taken from the horses April 9, and the hearing before the BHA Disciplinary Panel was held April 25.

"The panel takes a very dim view of the sheer volume of horses who were subjected to these unlawful medication regimes," the BHA said. "This was a widespread systematic misuse of illegal substances which are absolutely prohibited under the rules. Nearly a quarter of the 45 horses tested at the stables had positive samples. These were horses in training, some of which were entered into races in April and May.

"The panel is firmly of the view that this was not an accidental or inadvertent misunderstanding of the rules—this was a deliberate flouting of the governance framework of British racing by one of the most high-profile flat trainers working in the racing industry."

The BHA said Al Zarooni "did not have a credible explanation as to why he had not discussed the matter with the stable's veterinary surgeons or entered a record of the administration of the drugs in the stable's medication books." The organization also said Al Zarooni testified he had brought the drugs to Great Britain from Dubai in his luggage.

"The panel concluded that Al Zarooni sought to confer an unfair advantage on his horses by the underhand administration of illegal medication," the finding states. "His attempt at cheating was uncovered by the regulatory inspection, and he had no justifiable excuse for his behavior."

HFL Sport Science, the laboratory responsible for conducting the sample testing, on April 16 reported four unusual screening findings for stanozolol. Later that day, seven other samples were reported as being positive for ethylestranol.

The BHA said confirmatory analysis was performed, and all the samples came back positive.

Lynn Hillyer, BVSc, PhD, CertEM(IntMed), MRCVS, a BHA veterinary officer, noted the rules of racing, which state anabolic steroids are prohibited substances. She acknowledged that currently it is scientifically unproven whether anabolic steroids enhance equine performance because research hasn't been done, but because the drugs have clear effects on body weight and muscle mass it is likely they will enhance performance.

Hillyer during the hearing contended the effects of anabolic steroids could last for up to six months after administration.

The complete report can be viewed online.

Originally published on BloodHorse.com.

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