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Angry Sheikh orders Godolphin lockdown
06:38 AEST Thu Apr 25 2013

Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has spoken of his anger at the doping scandal engulfing his Newmarket-based Godolphin stable, which he has put in lockdown.

Sheikh Mohammed's racing empire was rocked to the roots on Monday when it emerged that 11 horses at Mahmood Al Zarooni's classic-winning yard had tested positive for anabolic steroids.

Al Zarooni has admitted to "a catastrophic mistake" and the 37-year-old faces a lengthy ban when he appears before a British Horseracing Authority disciplinary hearing on Thursday.

Whatever his fate Sheikh Mohammed now faces the uphill task of rebuilding the shattered reputation of his prized Godolphin racing operation.

In a statement on the eve of Al Zarooni's hearing Sheikh Mohammed pulled no punches at the sensational events in Newmarket.

"I was appalled and angered to learn that one of our stables has violated Godolphin's ethical standards and the rules of British racing," he told Godolphin's official website.

"I have been involved in British horse racing for 30 years and have deep respect for its traditions and rules.

"I built my country based on the same solid principles."

He insisted there was no excuse for any deliberate violation and confirmed that Godolphin were fully co-operating with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) "to get to the bottom of this matter and take any appropriate disciplinary action".

He revealed he had ordered the Godolphin management to undertake an immediate review of its internal procedures and controls to ensure any repeat "of this type of activity in any stables of mine".

And he revealed: "We will be locking down the Moulton Paddocks stables with immediate effect, and I have instructed that I want a full round of blood samples, and dope testing done on every single horse on that premises.

"I can assure the racing public that no horse will run from that yard this season until I have been absolutely assured by my team that the entire yard is completely clean."

In a telling sign of his embarrassment at the scandal Sheikh Mohammed, a member of the Jockey Club, the lawmaking body for British racing, concluded: "I have worked hard to ensure that Godolphin deserves its reputation for integrity and sportsmanship, and I have reiterated to all Godolphin employees that I will not tolerate this type of behaviour."

Godolphin's world was turned on its head when BHA doping inspectors turned up unannounced at Al Zarooni's yard on April 9 and detected steroids in 11 of the 45 samples taken, including Certify, one of the favourites for Sunday week's 1000 Guineas.

Al Zarooni has also admitted to administering steroids to four other horses, although doping charges against these cases cannot be brought as the four horses were not tested.

Former stable groom Al Zarooni was appointed three years ago by Sheikh Mohammed to work in competition with Godolphin's long standing trainer, Saeed bin Suroor.

Until Monday, he was proving a success, winning the Dubai World Cup and three classics, the last coming when 25-1 outsider Encke upset Camelot's bid for the coveted Triple Crown in the 2012 St Leger.

There has been only one other case of anabolic steroids in British racing in recent years, with top jumps trainer Howard Johnson receiving a four-year ban in 2011 when one of his horses tested positive to the banned substance.


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