Wednesday, April 24, 2013

UAE: Goldolphin driving force Sheikh Mohammed served athlete suspension for doping in endurance race - Full Article

24 April 2013
By Pippa Cuckson

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the driving force behind Godolphin Racing, served a six-month “athlete suspension” in 2009, after a horse he rode tested positive for prohibited substances in endurances races – in which a tough indigenous Arabian breed are usually preferred to the thoroughbreds used in flat racing – in Bahrain and Dubai.

The discipline, which involves long-distance treks of 100 miles, is the Fédération Equestre Internationale’s fastest-growing sport. However, the increase in popularity has been accompanied by a disproportionate incidence of doping in the Middle East. Endurance has also provided embarrassment for the sheikh’s junior wife, HRH Princess Haya of Jordan. She was elected president of the FEI in 2006 on a ‘clean sport’ mandate, and hired former Metropoliran Police Commissioner Lord Stevens to beef up integrity.

The FEI administers eight disciplines, including the Olympic sports of show jumping, eventing, and dressage, yet endurance accounts for eight of 11 doping cases currently under investigation, seven of which involve Arabic riders, three from the United Arab Emirates. Further, seven UAE riders were disciplined in medication control cases in 2012, six in 2011.

One repeat offender was Mubarak Khalifa Al Shafya, stripped of his FEI Open endurance title in 2008 while manager and trainer at Sheikh Mohammed’s Al Asaafa stable. Mubarak then trained thoroughbred racehorses for the sheikh in Newmarket and Dubai. In 2011, the FEI were concerned that five endurance horses managed by Mubarak had tested positive in the previous two years.

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