Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Godolphin scandal has rocked racing to its core

Trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni
Trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni

There's something rotten in the state of Newmarket – and it has absolutely nothing to do with any odour emanating from a stable.

The stench in question isn't what is coming out of our equine friends, rather what is allegedly going in, as a doping scandal rocks the sport to its very core.

The British Horse Racing Authority's revelation and subsequent charging of the trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni of the stellar Godolphin organisation – arguably the sport's biggest player – is sure to have long-lasting and far-reaching ramifications for those involved.

Al Zarooni will appear before a disciplinary panel of the BHA today after samples taken from 11 of his horses were found to have contained traces of anabolic steroids.

Al Zarooni could lose his training licence but what cost to Godolphin and racing as a whole?

He is one of two British-based trainers responsible for the horses of the multi-billion empire and its chief Sheikh Mohammed, ruler of Dubai.

He has invested millions into the sport – and won many back it has to be said – rubbing shoulders with the famous and rich, although not necessarily as well off as himself.

He is said to be appalled and has co-operated fully with the investigation, the result of samples taken earlier this month from 45 horses trained by Al Zarooni at Moulton Paddocks Stables.

Al Zarooni claims he made a "catastrophic error" in using the banned substances, saying he did not realise he had broken the rules. That is likely to cut little ice.

Whatever the outcome and whether the book is thrown at him and Godolphin, one things is for sure, racing feels very flat at the moment.

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