An Open Letter to Sheikh Mohammed Ruler of Dubai on the Horse Doping Scandal

Subject: An Open Letter to Sheikh Mohammed Ruler of Dubai on the Horse Doping Scandal
From: Richard
Date: 25 Apr 2013

Dear Sheikh Mohammed

You are a rich and powerful man. You are ruler of Dubai and prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates. You own the Godolphin stables and stud farms in the U.K., Ireland, the U.S. and Australia. You also host the Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest horse race. Your stables have won many races. However 11 of your horses have tested positive for anabolic steroids, a stimulant that has long been banned in horse racing. It is believed many more, perhaps all, of your horses in your UK stables have been doped.

You have been quoted as saying:
"I was appalled and angered to learn one of our stables in Newmarket has violated Godolphin's ethical standards and the rules of British racing. 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 until I have been assured by my team that the yard is completely clean. I have worked hard to ensure 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."

As owner of the stables, it appears that you are making out that you were unaware of what was going on, and are laying the blame at the door of Mahmood al-Zarooni your trainer. He will, of course, be banned from racing for several years when he appears before the BHA's disciplinary committee and has admitted the administration of performance-enhancing drugs, saying it was a "catastrophic error" on his part. He will of course deny that you had any knowledge of what was going on. I have to say that I doubt that very much, and suspect that you have ordered a—Zarooni to fall on his sword.

Why do I say that? Because in 2009, you were banned from long-distance racing for six months after your horse tested positive for banned substances. Again, a fall-guy, the stable manager, took the fall for you. Positive tests for anabolic steroids after a horse has run in a race are all but unknown in racing, yet your stables acquired and used them extensively. It is an ever-present threat that can undermine the whole infrastructure of the horse racing industry. As a keen racehorse owner and racer, you have taken a great deal of interest in the past in almost every aspect of your horses’ activities, including training. Your horses are very successful and win many races. Did it not cross your mind that there may have been some artificial enhancement to ensure your stables stay at the top? Why did you not have random and occasional dope tests run on horses at your stables? How many races in the past have your horses crossed the line first, with anabolic steroids coursing through their muscles?

I am afraid that this has tarnished the “sport of kings” and brought it down to the level of South East London Greyhound racing, where dog-doping was the norm. If I were you, I would issue a statement saying that in future you will have independent unannounced dope testing at your stables world-wide for the next five years with the results made available to any and all who want to see them, including the appropriate racing authorities. Only by doing this will you begin to rebuild the tarnished reputation of one of the greatest sports in the world.

And please don’t heap all the blame on the poor stable boys. A former President of the United States had a plaque on his desk saying “the buck stops here”. As owner of the Godolphin stables the buck stops with you. Man-up and say you accept responsibility and will personally ensure this never happens again. Or are you too skittish and are merely happy to lock the stable door after the horse has bolted?