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Mahmood al-Zarooni banned for eight years in Godolphin doping scandal 26/04/2013
Greg Wood
• Trainer disqualified until 2021 by British Horseracing Authority
• Zarooni admitted administering anabolic steroids to 15 horses

Mahmood al-Zarooni, the trainer at the heart of the Godolphin doping scandal, has been disqualified from racing for eight years following a disciplinary hearing at the British Horseracing Authority's offices in London on Thursday . The ban means that he will not be able to enter a racecourse or training stable in any major racing country until April 2021.

Zarooni left the hearing without comment shortly after the result had been announced. He had admitted administering anabolic steroids to a total of 15 horses at Moulton Paddocks, his stable just outside Newmarket, which he has run since being hired by Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, the world's most significant racehorse owner, in March 2010.

The eight-year ban effectively ends Zarooni's career in racing, after three seasons as one of the Godolphin operation's two principal trainers. In that time, he won two British Classics, the 1,000 Guineas and the St Leger, and had been expected to saddle Certify, one of the favourites for this year's 1,000 Guineas, at Newmarket on Sunday week. Certify was banned from racing by the BHA following the discovery that she had been doped with steroids.

Zarooni's ban from the sport comes less than a week after the BHA published the results of its "testing in training" visit to the famous Moulton Paddocks stable.

The authority's investigators tested 45 of Zarooni's horses, finding 11 which returned positive tests for either ethylestrenol or stanozolol, both banned anabolic steroids. Zarooni subsequently admitted to the authority that four more horses had also been administered with one of the two drugs.

Paul Bittar, the chief executive of the BHA, said after the result of the hearing had been announced that it had been "in the public interest, as well as that of the BHA and Godolphin, to progress the disciplinary procedures as quickly as possible".

In a prepared statement, Bittar also acknowledged that "it is recognised by all who follow our sport that the circumstances in this particular case are exceptional, not only on account of the profile of the owner in question, but also the number and calibre of the horses involved. However, we also believe the outcome is an endorsement for the effectiveness of British Racing's dope-testing programme.

"We believe that the eight-year disqualification issued to Mahmood al-Zarooni by the disciplinary panel, together with the six-month racing restriction placed on the horses in question by the BHA, will serve to reassure the public, and the sport's participants, that use of performance-enhancing substances in British racing will not be tolerated and that the sport has in place a robust and effective anti-doping and medication control programme."

Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager, read a statement on behalf of Zarooni following the conclusion of the case. "First and foremost," the statement said: "I would like to apologise to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed as well as all those involved at Godolphin and the public which follows British racing.

"I accept that it was my responsibility to know the rules regarding the use of prohibited substances in Britain. I can only apologise and repeat what I said in my statement earlier in the week. I have made a catastrophic error."All 15 horses named in the case were banned from racing by the BHA when the details of the case emerged on Monday. The length of time that they will be banned from competition has been set at six months from the date on which the tests were taken, and all 15 will be eligible to race from 9 October.

"The length of the suspension reflects the period beyond which the BHA is confident that the horses in question can have derived no performance-related benefit from the administration of these prohibited substances," Jamie Stier, the BHA's director of raceday operations and regulation, said on Thursday.

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