Giving anabolic steroids to horses will become a criminal offence in the United Arab Emirates, Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who also owns the Godolphin stables where 18 horses have failed tests for the drugs this year, said yesterday.
“I have always believed in the integrity of horse racing and all other horse sports,” Sheikh Mohammed, who is also a ruler of Dubai, said in a statement.
“I have, in light of the unfortunate recent event, directed that a decree be issued making, with immediate effect, the import, sale, purchase or use of anabolic steroids in horse sports a criminal offence under the UAE penal laws.”
Sheikh Mohammed said last month that he was appalled and angered about the positive tests for steroids at Godolphin’s Newmarket stables. Trainer Mahmood al-Zarooni was banned for eight years by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) after 11 horses tested positive in April. Seven more horses trained by Zarooni proved positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol in further tests, the BHA said last week.
“Regrettably, one of my stables in Europe has recently fallen below the standards that I expect and will tolerate,” Sheikh Mohammed said in a statement yesterday.
Rules on using drugs in horse racing vary around the world. Under current rules, the use of anabolic steroids is permitted out of competition in the UAE, as it is in Australia.
Sheikh Mohammed, who temporarily closed the Moulton Paddocks stables and ordered the testing of all the horses in Zarooni’s care after the positive tests, said Godolphin would recover. “As soon as the internal investigations are complete and the requisite pre-emptory rules are put in place, Godolphin will go from strength to strength and lead, once again, adherence to the highest standards in that gracious sport,” he said.
Meanwhile, former Godolphin jockey Frankie Dettori still hopes to be able to ride at next week’s Investec Derby meeting after making some progress towards having his licence reinstated.
The 42-year-old rider had planned to be back in action this week after serving a six-month ban handed out by France Galop after he tested positive for cocaine at Longchamp last September. However, a “private matter” between Dettori and the Medical Committee of France Galop has so far prevented the French regulator from clearing the jockey to return, with the British Horseracing Authority reciprocating that stance.
Dettori has been in France for the last two days trying to iron out the problem with France Galop and his solicitor Christopher Stewart-Moore believes progress has been made.
He said: “The latest position is that Frankie Dettori has been in France for the last two days at France Galop. The matter has moved forward and we are expecting a positive result. We are hopeful that the glitch has been ironed out so that he can get his English licence in time to ride in the Derby.”
BHA spokesman Robin Mounsey confirmed they are still awaiting the relevant information from France Galop and there has been no change in the position of racing’s rulers.
At Goodwood yesterday, Elik gave Sir Michael Stoute a timely boost ahead of next week’s Investec Oaks when landing the Height Of Fashion Stakes. The stablemate of leading Epsom fancy Liber Nauticus opened her account in good style in the Listed contest. Richard Hughes set the pace on Heading North and held a handy lead until Ryan Moore brought the daughter of Dalakhani with a strong run to challenge over a furlong out. Heading North did not go down without a fight, but she had nothing left to give in the last 100 yards and was beaten three-quarters of a length at the line as Elik (3-1) gained her first victory.
Stoute earlier announced that Telescope – part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson – “won’t be running” in the Investec Derby at Epsom on 1 June.
The Galileo colt had a racecourse gallop at Lingfield on Wednesday, in which he was described as only “workmanlike” by the Newmarket handler. He has since developed a sore shin, with Stoute of the opinion the premier Classic will now come too soon. Stoute said: “He has a bit of soreness on a left shin and I don’t think the horse will be going to Epsom. He’s not giving us the right signs and won’t be running.”