Godolphin trainer gets 8-year ban for doping

Updated 29 April 2013
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Godolphin trainer gets 8-year ban for doping

LONDON: A leading trainer for Godolphin was banned for eight years on Thursday for his part in a major doping scandal that has rocked British horse racing.
The British Horseracing Authority handed the suspension to Mahmood Al-Zarooni at a disciplinary hearing after he admitted to giving 15 horses anabolic steroids at his stables in Newmarket, England.
All 15 horses were banned from racing for six months.
Al-Zarooni was charged with violating multiple rules related to banned substances, as well as failing to keep medication records and with conduct prejudicial to the sport.
“We believe that the eight-year disqualification issued to Mahmood Al-Zarooni ... 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 program,” BHA chief executive Paul Bittar said in a statement.
The banned horses include Certify, who had been the favorite for the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket next month before being pulled out of the race on Monday.
The scandal has already caused Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the head of Godolphin and ruler of Dubai, to lock down Al-Zarooni’s Moulton Paddocks stables in Newmarket, and order a round of blood tests for all his horses.
A mass media scrum hit Al-Zarooni when he arrived at BHA’s headquarters in central London with Simon Crisford, the racing manager of Godolphin — the most illustrious operation in horse racing.
Al-Zarooni, who represented himself at the hearing, said Monday he deeply regretted making a “catastrophic error,” saying the horses he doped weren’t racing at the time so he “did not realize that what I was doing was in breach of the rules of racing.”
At a routine visit of Al-Zarooni’s stables on April 9, the BHA tested 45 horses. Seven tested positive for ethylestranol and four for stanozolol — the same steroid found in the urine of Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson in his positive test at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
Al-Zarooni has told investigating officers that he administered four more horses with the prohibited substances, but they weren’t tested when the BHA visited the stables.
“The relevant rules in this case are explicit in that the use of anabolic steroids in horses in the care of a licensed trainer is prohibited and that strict liability for everything administered to horses while they are in training lies with the trainer,” Bittar said. “The BHA’s investigation has established that the substances in question were administered on the instruction of Mahmood Al Zarooni.”
Sheik Mohammed said Wednesday he is “appalled and angered” at what has happened.


Pakistan's Azhar Ali signs for Somerset

Pakistan's Azhar Ali celebrates reaching his century during a match between England and Pakistant on August 4, 2016. (Reuters file)
Updated 16 July 2018
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Pakistan's Azhar Ali signs for Somerset

  • Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month

LONDON: Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali has joined Somerset for the remainder of their first-class English County Championship fixtures this season, the southwest club said Monday.

The 33-year-old replaces Australia opener Matt Renshaw, who made three hundreds at 51.30 in the opening rounds of the Championship before breaking a finger against Surrey at Guildford last month.

Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month.

"The standard of first-class cricket in England is very high and I hope that I can make a contribution to Somerset winning matches," Azhar told his new county's website.

"I have heard good things about Somerset and I was impressed by what I saw at Taunton in 2016 (when Pakistan opened their tour of England that year against the county).

"I am looking forward to joining my new team mates and meeting the Somerset supporters soon."

Azhar struggled during Pakistan's three Tests against Ireland and England earlier this season, making 73 runs in six innings although his lone fifty did come during Pakistan's impressive victory over England at Lord's.

"Finding the right fit at short notice can be challenging, however we are delighted to have secured a player of Azhar Ali's character, pedigree and class for the remaining seven Specsavers County Championship matches," said Somerset's director of cricket, Andy Hurry.

"His experience at the top of the order will prove to be hugely valuable at the business end of the season.

"I have spoken to him several times over the last few weeks and he is very keen to share his knowledge of the game with our aspirational players, so the influence he can have within the changing room will also be vital for us as a club."