Updated on 04/25/2013 2:44PM

Godolphin trainer Al Zarooni gets eight-year ban after horses test positive for steroids


Mahmood Al Zarooni, who rose from relative obscurity to train for Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Racing stable in recent years, was banned for eight years by the British Horseracing Authority on Thursday after 11 horses in his care tested positive for banned substances earlier this month.

The suspension was announced after Al Zarooni appeared before a disciplinary hearing at the BHA’s headquarters in London.

Earlier Thursday, the BHA announced that 15 of Al Zarooni’s horses were suspended from racing until early October. The horses included the 11 who tested positive for the banned anabolic steroids ethylestranol and stanozolol and four others whom Al Zarooni had told officials were given the same medication.

On Monday, the BHA announced that 11 horses trained by Al Zarooni in Newmarket, England, had tested positive in out-of-competition testing for the anabolic steroids. On the same day, Al Zarooni released a statement on the Godolphin website accepting blame for the positive tests. He said in the statement that he made a “catastrophic error.”

Al Zarooni, 37, was charged with multiple breaches of rules related to liability of trainers regarding prohibited substances, duty to keep medication records, and conduct prejudicial to horse racing.

The case against Al Zarooni took less than a month to complete. Samples were taken from the horses April 9, and the charges against Al Zarooni were announced Monday.

On Wednesday, Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai, said none of the horses from Al Zarooni’s stable would be allowed to start until precautionary drug tests were completed.

Al Zarooni, an Emirati, had risen in prominence in the Godolphin operation in recent years, fueled by a win in the 2012 Dubai World Cup with Monterosso.
The suspension of the horses in Al Zarooni’s care was made retroactive to April 9 and ends Oct. 9. The ban essentially keeps the horses out of racing through most of the European turf flat-racing season, which ends in November.

The banned horses are Artigiano, Bathrat Amal, Certify, Comitas, Desert Blossom, Fair Hill, Ghostflower, Opinion Poll, Orkney Island, Restraint of Trade, Sashiko, Sweet Rose, Tearless, Vacationer, and Valley of Queens.

Certify, who won the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket last September, is the most prominent horse who tested positive for ethylestranol. The 3-year-old filly Desert Blossom, who finished third in the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes in 2012, also tested positive for ethylestranol.

The four horses who tested positive for stanozolol in BHA tests included Artigiano, who was sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita last November, and Opinion Poll, who won the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan Racecourse in 2012.

Lise McLain More than 1 year ago
Hi! It is about time. Weed out the violators. This is a great message to send to all those in the horse racing business who are violators and potential violators plus the fans who love the horses. You violate the rules and regulations, and there will be stiff penalties. Great! What about having stiff penalties in these United States for violators? From what I have read and studied, they only get a "slap on the head" and go about their business as usual. This is very disappointing, and those who make these decisions to "let the violators go" so to speak are just as guilty in my opinion. They ought to be thrown off those decision making "boards." I really feel bad for those horses who were "used and abused" and tested positive with illegal drugs in their system. Those poor horses! God love them! Thank you! Lise from Maine
Marc Estrich More than 1 year ago
I hope Buff and Mr. Bradley read this one after the unfair way they were treated in UAE with Brass Hat IMO. In the words of Claude Rains in Casablanca..."Shocking!!!"
Babygeorge123 More than 1 year ago
Oh My, all this time I thought it was Class, !!!
BigBear More than 1 year ago
Eight years ; MAZ should have called Dutrow's lawyer and made the trip to London worth his time.
mike More than 1 year ago
And the sheikh is completely innocent lol...........
michael stapler More than 1 year ago
For all you "know-it-all's"...Dubai was built on oil, but it is the way they do business, similar to us western countries that has made them a powerhouse. My God.....take a class now and again, instead of getting your facts from hearsay and comic books. NOW, they thrive on real estate, tourism and such.
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
Michael, they attempt to thrive on real estate and tourism, but their real estate market is way under water (they do own tons of real estate over the world) and their tourism attempt is a failure. Don't just look up stuff on Google, attempt to know the facts before making comments.
michael stapler More than 1 year ago
Does ANYBODY screen this crap. But let's all be honest..... Isn't it fantastically funny to read the moronic statements below?
Marcus Semona More than 1 year ago
The whole Goldolphin operation seems like they have more dollars then sense.
Jon Cohen More than 1 year ago
So they are making this guy fall on the sword so Goldolphin can "save face" Anyone who believes he is solely responsible is delusional. They probably gave him a palace and 74 virgins.
michael stapler More than 1 year ago
Yes....They ALL cheat and you complain, but still wager.... Hmmmm. What does that make you?
Grazyna Mianska More than 1 year ago
Interesting that Al Zarooni is banned for eight years yet in Austrailia these two drugs are okay to use. Just a thought.