Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Great Britain: BHA is too quick to insist drug seizures nothing to do with racing

Theguardian.com - Full Article

Greg Wood
The Guardian, Sunday 29 September 2013 17.24 EDT

Sheikh Mohammed's endurance horse operation comes under scrutiny after drugs seized from Dubai government jet

When it emerged earlier this month that 124 illegally imported veterinary products had been seized in a raid at a property in Newmarket owned by the world's most powerful racehorse owner, the British Horseracing Authority appeared adamant it had nothing to do with them.

"This is a matter for Defra [the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which conducted the raid]," a BHA spokesman said. "In the view of Defra, there is no link between the seizure and the racing industry and the products were not intended for use on thoroughbreds."

Even then, it seemed quite casual, not least in the context of the Godolphin doping scandal which broke in April.

The horses which were found to have been doped with anabolic steroids by Mahmood al-Zarooni, including Encke, a Classic winner, are still serving their six-month bans from the sport. The account given by the BHA, which ejected Zarooni from racing with what felt like extraordinary speed a few days after the first positive tests at his stable, offers a vague and scarcely credible account of how he could have acquired industrial quantities of banned steroids.

Nor has it produced a satisfactory explanation of how he then managed, with the help of three junior staff, to dope at least 22 of his horses, and probably more, on a near-daily basis without anyone else realising what was happening. Zarooni did all this, apparently, while also spending all but a few days of the winter in Dubai.

Now, as it becomes clear that the structures and accountability in Sheikh Mohammed's endurance horse operation leave a lot to be desired, the BHA's breezy dismissal of any possible link with the racing side of the Sheikh's equine interests appears unwise at best...

Read more here:
http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2013/sep/29/bha-sheikh-mohammed-drugs