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Laura Donnellan of the University of Limerick an Expert on Equestrian Law Comments on the Godolphin New Market Racing Stables Horse Doping Scandal!

The use of prohibited substances in horse racing is sadly not unknown and has become the subject of much recent media attention as eleven horses residing at the Moulton Paddock Stables in Newmarket, part of the prestigious Godolphin Stables, tested positive for anabolic steroids. The tests were carried out as part of the British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) “testing in training” sampling programme. The BHA introduced “testing in training” in January 1998, in order to reassure the racing and betting public that prohibited substances were not being used during training. From February 2002, officials from the BHA have conducted unannounced visits to Stables, averaging one visit per month. As part of this programme, the officials attended the Moulton Stables on the 9April, 2013 and carried out tests on forty-five horses. Blood samples were taken from the horses concerned and subsequently analysed by the Horseracing Forensic Laboratory in Newmarket - an independent drug surveillance laboratory. The BHA, on 22April, 2013, announced that trainer Mahood Al Zarooni of the Moulton Paddock Stables would be facing a disciplinary hearing enquiry at the first available opportunity after it emerged that eleven horses tested positive for prohibited substances. Four of the horses, including the 2012 Ascot Gold Cup Runner-up, Opinion Poll, tested positive for stanozolol; whilst seven horses tested positive for ethylestranol. Although stanozolol may be used in the bona fide medical treatment of horses, the drug appears in the present case to have been used for non-medical purposes, namely as a performance enhancing drug that promotes muscular development. In a press release posted on the BHA website on 22April, 2013, the Director of Integrity, Legal and Risk at the BHA, Adam Brickell, stated: “Ethylestranol and stanozolol are anabolic steroids and therefore Prohibited Substances under British Rules of Racing, at any time - either in training or racing”. In response to the findings, Al Zarooni announced that he deeply regretted what has happened and admitted having made “a catastrophic error”. Whilst admitting liability, the trainer argued that, as the horses were not involved in racing at the time, he believed that no doping infraction had occurred. The BHA operates a zero tolerance policy in relation to the use of performance enhancing drugs - and quite rightly so. Both stanozolol and ethylestranol are deemed to be performance enhancing substances and are prohibited in both training and competition. The presence of performance enhancing drugs in horse racing raises two important considerations. If a horse is given a banned substance, in order to enhance performance, there is clearly an element of cheating, which is against the principles of clean and fair competition in any sport, which is all about fairness. The use of drugs undermines the integrity of the sport of horse racing. There is also an animal welfare issue involved if a banned substance is given to a horse either to enhance performance or to mask an injury. The Racing Rules Trainer Manual (Part 3, the General Duties of Trainers) imposes a number of legal duties on trainers. Under section (C) 22, the trainer must exercise reasonable care and skill and with due regard to the interests of the owners and horses under his care; the safety of his employees and agents; and must take reasonable steps to prevent breaches of the Rules (whether intentional or accidental) by himself or others. This duty, the compliance with which appears to be an absolute one, is extended to any horse under his care or control, whether or not the horse is currently in training.    Section (C) 27 places a duty on trainers to take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety and welfare of all horses under their care or control (whether or not they are currently in training). The Disciplinary Panel may decide to penalise Al Zarooni for a breach of both Sections (C) 22 and 27 (see page 57 of the Guide to Procedures and Penalties 2012:   http://rules.britishhorseracing.com/_documents/guide_to_procedures_and_penalties_2012.pdf) and withdraw his trainer’s licence. Whatever happens, the punishment must fit the ‘crime’! What emerges from the media reports - and indeed the comments of Al Zarooni himself - is the lack of reference to the welfare of the horses in question. It would seem that the trainer’s admission of making “a catastrophic error” implies that the use of either substance was not based on a bona fide medical ground, but for the purpose of enhancing performance. It will be interesting to see, therefore, what reasons will be given at the disciplinary hearing. Given that Al Zarooni is an experienced trainer, it would have been expected that he would be well versed in the Doping Regulations of the BHA. According to the Godolphin website, so far this year it has amassed prize money of US$9,091, 589. Given its position as one of the most prestigious and respected Stables in the world of horse racing, the actions of Al Zarooni have greatly damaged the reputation of Godolphin and also the ‘sport of kings’! Laura Donnellan may be contacted by e-mail at ‘This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Laura Donnellan of the University of Limerick an Expert on Equestrian Law Comments on the Godolphin New Market Racing Stables Horse Doping Scandal! The use of prohibited substances in horse racing is sadly not unknown and has become the subject of much recent media attention as eleven horses residing at the Moulton Paddock Stables in Newmarket, part of the prestigious Godolphin Stables, tested positive for anabolic steroids. The tests were carried out as part of the British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) “testing in training” sampling programme. The BHA introduced “testing in training” in January 1998, in order to reassure the racing and betting public that prohibited substances were not being used during training. From February 2002, officials from the BHA have conducted unannounced visits to Stables, averaging one visit per month. As part of this programme, the officials attended the Moulton Stables on the 9April, 2013 and carried out tests on forty-five horses. Blood samples were taken from the horses concerned and subsequently analysed by the Horseracing Forensic Laboratory in Newmarket - an independent drug surveillance laboratory. The BHA, on 22April, 2013, announced that trainer Mahood Al Zarooni of the Moulton Paddock Stables would be facing a disciplinary hearing enquiry at the first available opportunity after it emerged that eleven horses tested positive for prohibited substances. Four of the horses, including the 2012 Ascot Gold Cup Runner-up, Opinion Poll, tested positive for stanozolol; whilst seven horses tested positive for ethylestranol. Although stanozolol may be used in the bona fide medical treatment of horses, the drug appears in the present case to have been used for non-medical purposes, namely as a performance enhancing drug that promotes muscular development. In a press release posted on the BHA website on 22April, 2013, the Director of Integrity, Legal and Risk at the BHA, Adam Brickell, stated: “Ethylestranol and stanozolol are anabolic steroids and therefore Prohibited Substances under British Rules of Racing, at any time - either in training or racing”. In response to the findings, Al Zarooni announced that he deeply regretted what has happened and admitted having made “a catastrophic error”. Whilst admitting liability, the trainer argued that, as the horses were not involved in racing at the time, he believed that no doping infraction had occurred. The BHA operates a zero tolerance policy in relation to the use of performance enhancing drugs - and quite rightly so. Both stanozolol and ethylestranol are deemed to be performance enhancing substances and are prohibited in both training and competition. The presence of performance enhancing drugs in horse racing raises two important considerations. If a horse is given a banned substance, in order to enhance performance, there is clearly an element of cheating, which is against the principles of clean and fair competition in any sport, which is all about fairness. The use of drugs undermines the integrity of the sport of horse racing. There is also an animal welfare issue involved if a banned substance is given to a horse either to enhance performance or to mask an injury. The Racing Rules Trainer Manual (Part 3, the General Duties of Trainers) imposes a number of legal duties on trainers. Under section (C) 22, the trainer must exercise reasonable care and skill and with due regard to the interests of the owners and horses under his care; the safety of his employees and agents; and must take reasonable steps to prevent breaches of the Rules (whether intentional or accidental) by himself or others. This duty, the compliance with which appears to be an absolute one, is extended to any horse under his care or control, whether or not the horse is currently in training.    Section (C) 27 places a duty on trainers to take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety and welfare of all horses under their care or control (whether or not they are currently in training). The Disciplinary Panel may decide to penalise Al Zarooni for a breach of both Sections (C) 22 and 27 (see page 57 of the Guide to Procedures and Penalties 2012:   http://rules.britishhorseracing.com/_documents/guide_to_procedures_and_penalties_2012.pdf) and withdraw his trainer’s licence. Whatever happens, the punishment must fit the ‘crime’! What emerges from the media reports - and indeed the comments of Al Zarooni himself - is the lack of reference to the welfare of the horses in question. It would seem that the trainer’s admission of making “a catastrophic error” implies that the use of either substance was not based on a bona fide medical ground, but for the purpose of enhancing performance. It will be interesting to see, therefore, what reasons will be given at the disciplinary hearing. Given that Al Zarooni is an experienced trainer, it would have been expected that he would be well versed in the Doping Regulations of the BHA. According to the Godolphin website, so far this year it has amassed prize money of US$9,091, 589. Given its position as one of the most prestigious and respected Stables in the world of horse racing, the actions of Al Zarooni have greatly damaged the reputation of Godolphin and also the ‘sport of kings’! Laura Donnellan may be contacted by e-mail at ‘This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                          
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The unique feature of Global Sports Law and Taxation Reports is that this Journal combines for the first time up to-date valuable and must-have information on the legal and tax aspects of sport and their interrelationships.

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The editors of  the Journal Sports Law & Taxation are Professor Ian Blackshaw and Dr Rijkele Betten, with specialist contributions from the world's leading practitioners and academics in the sports law and taxation fields.

The Editors

Managing editor
Dr. Rijkele Betten

Consulting editor
Prof. Dr. Ian S. Blackshaw

Editorial board

Prof. Guglielmo Maisto
Maisto e Associati, Milano

Dr. Dick Molenaar
All Arts Tax Advisors, Rotterdam

 

Mr. Kevin Offer
Hardwick & Morris LLP, London

Mr. Mario Tenore
Maisto e Associati, Milano

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