The British Horseracing Authority (HRA) has finally delivered an outcome on the doping case of Godolphin Racing and shamed trainer Mahmood al-Zarooni. However, it is not the outcome that many within UK horseracing were hoping for. The limited findings released to the public has left many questioning the investigation’s thoroughness and overall integrity.
In terms of punishment, al-Zarooni received an eight-year ban from horseracing back in April. But that was not the end of the scandal, with seven additional samples testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs a month later in May. That discovery left the BHA with many more questions to answer in their investigation.
Al-Zarooni Responsible for All Positive Tests
An answer to those eight positive tests has at last been given, albeit late in July. The BHA provided a response that seemed to be based on assumption, as supported by the direct words of the BHA: ‘…it is sensible to assume that Mr Zarooni was responsible for them’. That conclusion was reached after the BHA was unable to find ‘any evidence to the contrary’.
Al Zarooni was initially discovered and held responsible for 15 positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs in April when he was charged. In the early stages, only 11 horses had actually tested positive, as part of a group of 45 on 9 April. It was only later that al-Zarooni provided four further names to add to the list, also indicating that there were no more skeletons hiding in the closet of Moulton Paddocks, the Godolphin stables where he had worked for three years prior his downfall.
Acted as a Lone Wolf
It is only logical to question whether or not al-Zarooni is actually responsible or the seven positive sample from May. Having already been caught and punished for his actions, it would be simple to pin the responsibility for the doping on him as well, so as to prevent repercussions for Godolphin Racing, one of the major forces in British and international horseracing.
The story fed to the sport, media and general public has painted al-Zarooni as a lone wolf. Al-Zarooni’s assistance during his tenure, Charlie Appleby, was the most at risk from the investigation. However, he is now in the clear after the BHA determined that he had no part in the doping activities of his former boss.
No Assistance from Others
What makes the outcome so questionable is that al-Zarooni spent nearly all of the winter in his native Dubai. Numerous media outlets are questioning how we could maintain his doping strategy without the assistance of any others at Moulton Paddocks. Al-Zarooni had only been back in the UK for just a few days around 10 March.
He then returned to the UK on 30 March, which turned out to be only a week before the BHA testers arrived to discover the positive samples. The BHA had previously stated that it would only release the key findings from the investigations. Many in the sport now believe that is due to the BHA trying to hide the truth and blame the entire scandal on an individual.