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Lord Stevens hired by sheikh to investigate racing empire

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The man who chaired one of two FEI-backed inquiries aimed at cleaning up doping in equestrian sports will head an internal inquiry into drugs issues affecting the global racing interests of Dubai’s ruler.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, whose wife, Princess Haya, is president of the FEI, has appointed Lord Stevens, the former head of London’s Metropolitan Police, to spearhead the internal probe.

Stevens has been given the go-ahead to assemble a team of experts as the sheikh seeks to put behind him a string of drugs scandals around his thoroughbred and endurance racing interests.

The sheikh has been angered by several incidents, most notably the use of anabolic steroids among 22 out-of-competition thoroughbreds at Newmarket’s Moulton Paddock stables, part of his Godolphin racing empire.

Dubai-born trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni admitted the racing offences, saying he thought it was acceptable in Britain to use steroids in out-of-competition horses in the British racing jurisdiction. He received an eight-year ban from British racing authorities.

Later, authorities were to seize horse drugs linked to the endurance side of the sheikh’s British operation in August at Moorley Farm in Newmarket. While there was nothing illegal about the drugs – they were all procurable in Britain – authorities were apparently concerned about their importation.

Mahmood Al Zarooni

Mahmood Al Zarooni

Then, on May 3, a shipment of unlicensed veterinary drugs, apparently intended for use on horses, was seized from a Dubai government jet at Stansted airport in Essex. The drugs were marked as horse tack.

The Guardian newspaper reported this week that Haya had been asked by the sheikh to step in and resolve the ongoing problems, which have caused him considerable embarrassment.

In 2009, the sheikh received a six-month ban after his endurance mount, Tahhan, tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid, stanozolol.

Trainer Abdullah bin Huzaim, who admitted giving the horse drugs before desert races at Bahrain and Dubai, was handed a one-year ban.

Under FEI rules, the person riding the horse in an event is responsible for any drug breaches, although other support personnel may also be held accountable if circumstances dictate.

Haya approached Stevens to ask if he would conduct the inquiry.

Stevens said in a statement that he had been asked to examine organisational structures, internal communication and veterinary practices at all of the major components of the sheikh’s equestrian properties and operations, including Darley, Godolphin, Meydan and Janah, the equine flight company.

“Sheikh Mohammed is adamant that any evidence of violations of law or regulation in any jurisdiction should be shared with the appropriate authorities,” Stevens said.

“Our primary focus is on preventing any future systemic failures.

“Following my meeting with Princess Haya on Tuesday, I have begun assembling a team of experts for this task.

“We have agreed that we will not wait until the inquiry is finished to suggest any improvements that should be implemented more quickly.”

The former police commissioner chaired the FEI’s so-called Stevens Inquiry, one of two investigations launched as the world governing body of equestrian sports sought to clean up drugs infringements.

 

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