Godolphin scandal: St Leger winner Encke among seven to fail steroid test

Seven more horses exposed in doping scandal but Bin Suroor yard is given all-clear

The Mahmood al-Zarooni scandal entered an explosive new phase when Encke, who deprived Camelot of a historic Triple Crown success at Doncaster last September, was named among seven additional horses to have tested positive for anabolic steroids.

Suddenly it seems as though the  disgraced Godolphin trainer, banned for eight years after confessing his guilt to a British Horseracing Authority hearing, can no longer be credited even for his candour. Certainly, it is now harder to accept that Zarooni was brought down by an unprecedented aberration.

Admittedly, there is no evidence that Encke had been administered steroids before his success in the St Leger, having produced “clean” samples both after his trial at York on 22 August and also after winning at Doncaster. But the fact remains that Zarooni volunteered the names of just four other horses that had received steroids, after 11 out of 45 random samples taken from his yard had yielded positives. Now Encke is among seven others tainted by traces of Stanozolol. Others include Improvisation, an  impressive winner at the Craven meeting; and Steeler, an accomplished juvenile for Mark Johnston before being transferred to Godolphin. While both Zarooni and his former employers are entitled to request B sample analysis, these seven are set to be banished from the racecourse until 29 October – six months, that is, from the date of testing.

Sheikh Mohammed, the Godolphin owner, had corroborated his outrage over Zarooni by volunteering every other horse at Moulton Paddocks for independent testing. The good news for the sheikh is that all the horses supervised by the other Godolphin trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, have been passed as clean after the BHA extended testing to his Stanley House stable, also in Newmarket, “for the sake of completeness”. Bin Suroor, who  relieved the Godolphin siege with a Group One winner at Newbury on Saturday, will duly be permitted to  assume temporary control of Moulton Paddocks, pending the appointment of a new trainer there.

On the face of it, seven out of the 391 horses additionally tested – divided between two huge yards – would not imply systematic doping of those stabled with Zarooni. But the unnerving reality is that steroids, with astute management of detection windows, clear a horse’s system while any benefit endures. Fresh questions will duly be asked about the testimony by which Zarooni incriminated himself so colourfully at his hearing last month.

He has since lodged an appeal against the severity of his penalty, despite brazenly recalling how he had handed an assistant unmarked syringes through his car window, together with a list of horses. Other horses had been treated with a paste feed supplement. But now his claims as a reliable witness appear to have been undermined, in turn raising fresh questions. When were these seven extra horses treated? Was it at the same time as the 15 known cases? Or had Zarooni, based in Dubai until after the World Cup meeting at the end of March, made other pre-season visits to Newmarket with steroids secreted in his baggage? If not, did he delegate  the horses’ treatment to others?

Adam Brickell, director of integrity at the BHA, said no separate action would be taken over these fresh results while Zarooni’s appeal – which, like his original hearing, is to an independent panel – remained ongoing. “In the meantime, the latest findings will form the subject of further interviews as part of the BHA’s continuing investigation,” he said. “One of the aims of the investigation, in addition to trying to understand the environment within which such serious breaches came to be committed, has been to identify what measures are needed to ensure the yard operates in accordance with the Rules in future. The findings will be shared with Godolphin and will also assist the BHA with regard to the future licensing of the yard.”

Paul Bittar, the BHA chief executive, welcomed the confirmation that Bin Suroor stood apart from his former assistant’s rogue methods. “These test results endorse the swift action and measures taken in this matter,” Bittar said. “Whatever the outcome of his appeal, the gravity and scale of the infringements warranted Mahmood al-Zarooni being removed from control of the yard as quickly as possible.”

 



Turf Account

CHRIS McGRATH’s NAP

Mean It (4.30 Newcastle)

NEXT BEST

Sandy Lane (5.30 Newcastle)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy