Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Great Britain: Sheikh Mohammed's son-in-law explains pressures that lead to doping in endurance racing

Telegraph.co.uk - Full Article

By Simon Briggs
14 May 2013

Endurance racing needed a smooth day out on Friday at Windsor, after the negative publicity that has surrounded it in recent days. The Queen attended, the United Arab Emirates took three of the first four places, and no positive tests were reported — for the moment at least.

For those not familiar with this niche equestrian pursuit, an endurance ride involves a course of up to 100 miles long which must be completed by one rider on one horse. It is little wonder that the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) has identified it as a hotspot for chemical enhancement, with 41 cases of doctored horses reported between 2010 and 2012.

Figures prepared by the Swiss Equestrian Federation suggest that the Middle Eastern states — which have come to dominate the sport since the 1990s — are at the heart of the problem. Horses from the UAE have repeatedly been cited — even one ridden by the Emir of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, himself. The connections between these mini-scandals and the rather larger debacle at Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin stables are not hard to draw.

Sheikh Mohammed’s son-in-law, Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, rode in Friday’s race, although with limited success; his horse Moro Famayev went lame and had to retire after the first 20-mile lap. Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Prince Nasser — whose father is the King of Bahrain — admitted that doping was a major problem in endurance racing, though he was wise enough to defend Sheikh Mohammed from any accusation of wrong-doing.

“What made this happen is like exactly the athletes in the human races, they want to beat the other runners and the other countries, and they start to miscalculate things,” said Prince Nasser...

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