Famous horse racing Sheikh brings drug cheat scandal to Britain

Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum in the stands at the races. He is now the central character of a huge racehorse doping scandal. AFP image.
Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum in the stands at the races. He is the central character of a huge racehorse doping scandal in Britain. AFP image.

Cheating in horse racing with the use of illegal drugs is usually about greed or ego or both, and the USA are usually seen as the shameful face of it around the world. Not any more. Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum has brought this filthy tactic and blighted the reputation of British horse racing and the empire he created, Godolphin.

We say take your horses and go home. But can British horse racing afford for him to do so? Maybe not.

When the Aga Khan was busted — who had a similar sort of investment for the times — he took his horses away and boycotted British horse racing saying he would never race there again. The British Horseracing Authority seem terrified Sheikh Mohammed may do the same if pressed too hard.

I remember when Sheikh Mohammed took his horses away from Sir Henry Cecil’s yard at Warren Hill in Newmarket. There were some who predicted it would cripple Sir Henry and perhaps even close his famously successful training facility. That did not happen, although there were some hard times. Sir Henry went on of course to train one of the greatest racehorses of all time, Frankel.

JOHN F BURNS reporting the The New York Times reports:

    NEWMARKET, England — It is called the sport of kings and it has been in this haven of racecourses, stables and studs since the 17th century, when King Charles I and his courtiers made the 100-mile journey here by horse-drawn carriages.

    But the town has never known a darker passage than the past week. Another monarch, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum of Dubai, and Godolphin, his global horse racing enterprise, have been the talk of Britain after what The Times of London described as British racing’s “Lance Armstrong moment.”

    On Monday, the British Horseracing Authority announced that 11 of the sheik’s best horses tested positive for banned anabolic steroids, including stanozolol and ethylestrenol, which can give horses a muscle strength that is well beyond their natural capacity. Forty-five Godolphin horses were tested in an out-of-competition sweep earlier this month at the Moulton Paddocks stables.

    Godolphin, which has a billion-dollar roster of 5,000 racehorses stabled in 12 countries, including the United States and Japan, quickly announced that its own tests found four more of its Newmarket-based horses had banned steroids in their systems.

    Although the drugs are strictly barred in Britain during training and competition, several other countries, including Australia, Dubai and the United States, allow their use in training, as long as they are not present in a horse’s system on the day of a race.

    Godolphin announced an immediate lockdown of Moulton Paddocks, with no further competition for its 100 horses until all have cleared drugs tests and the stable is judged to be completely clean. The 15 horses that tested positive for steroids were barred from racing for six months.

Read full report >>

How disgraceful. How disappointing. How useless.


And this from PAUL HAYWARD reporting for The Telegraph:

    In an interview last year with Geoffrey Riddle for The National, a United Arab Emirates-based newspaper, Al Zarooni said of Sheikh Mohammed:

    “He’s my master. He’s the one telling me to do this, this, this. He calls me daily, nearly. He must be so busy. He runs a whole country, but often he comes here to watch the gallops, sometimes for morning and evening lots.

    “It is his idea how to work the horses. What they do exactly, what pace they go and over which distances they run. He tells me: ‘Mahmood feed that horse this, or this horse doesn’t look too good’, and so on.”

Read full report >>

If you must bet, bet on something else folks. There’s plenty to be had. Without gambling there is no horse racing industry. Doping is just the tip of this Titanic style iceberg.


Second British Trainer Admits to Steroid Use; The Blood-Horse; 29 Apr 2013

6 thoughts on “Famous horse racing Sheikh brings drug cheat scandal to Britain”

  1. There is a tone of haughty xenophobia in this piece that does not flatter Britain in the least. The title implies a spotless virginity to British racing that has been violated by foreigners. It is rather too precious and frankly a bit comical.


  2. I agree Vivian, Horse Owners know everything that is given to their Horses !!!!!! They make it their Business to know !!!!!!! With investments in their Race Horses very expensive , I would Know !!!!!


  3. I don’t think that the Sheikh had anything to do with the administration of steroids to his horses and the trainer is the one who did it on his own, as he has admitted. The Sheikh is very anti drug and very good for racing. I think you have slanted your article in a bad way that does not sit with the truth of the entire matter.


    1. Thank you Paula. How I wish I could agree with you.

      I don’t think the “truth of the entire matter” is out yet; it may never be. I photographed his horses when I lived in England and there were few owners I admired or respected more. This is not something I want to believe about him, resisted believing. But my sources, who are working right now in Newmarket, are giving me sad, sad news.

      We will see what and how the mainstream media report it. In my view, which is shared by anyone who has the slightest knowledge of him, it is unfathomable that anyone connected with Sheikh Mohammed would take any sort of action with his horses without his knowledge. That is why this is so very, very shocking.


  4. Thanks for presenting some different views of this scandal. What I’d previously read was very much pro-BHA for taking action more quickly than any US officials would, but didn’t really have any depth.


    1. Thank you for your comment. I think you have a strong point there that the BHA have responded more quickly, and more deliberately, than any US officials would. They talk about it, and that is pretty much the end of it. From what we can see, some trainers caught using dermorphin (aka “frog juice”) are still training. It is a sick trend in all sorts of sports. Of course the athletes in other sports choose to do what they do; horses have no choice and suffer the side effects and other consequences, such as breakdowns and death.


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