05/23/2013 4:07PM

Sheikh Mohammed makes steroid use a criminal offense

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Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum has signed a decree making the use of anabolic steroids in racehorses a criminal offense in Dubai, the home of Meydan Racecourse and the Dubai World Cup.

Maktoum issued a statement on Thursday saying the decree will go into effect immediately. The decree prohibits “the import, sale, purchase, or use of anabolic steroids in horse sports” in Dubai. The drugs are currently banned for use in racing, but running afoul of the regulations is not a criminal offense.

Last month, a trainer for Maktoum’s Godolphin operation in Newmarket, England, was banned for eight years after 15 horses tested positive for anabolic steroids in out-of-competition testing conducted by the British Horseracing Authority. The trainer, Mahmood al Zarooni, has appealed the length of the ban.

Earlier this week, the British Horseracing Authority said that an additional seven horses based at Zarooni’s operation had tested positive for anabolic steroids as well.

The charges against Zarooni were embarrassing for Maktoum, who runs the most high-profile racing operation in the world.