Giving anabolic steroids to horses will become a criminal offence in the United Arab Emirates, Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who also owns the Godolphin stables where 18 horses have failed tests for the drugs this year, said on Thursday.
“I have always believed in the integrity of horse racing and all other horse sports,” Sheikh Mohammed, who is also a ruler of Dubai, said in a statement.
“I have, in light of the unfortunate recent event, directed that a decree be issued making, with immediate effect, the import, sale, purchase or use of anabolic steroids in horse sports a criminal offence under the UAE penal laws.”
Sheikh Mohammed said last month that he was appalled and angered about the positive tests for steroids at Godolphin’s Newmarket stables in England.
Trainer Mahmood al-Zarooni was banned for eight years by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) after 11 horses tested positive in April.
Seven more horses trained by Zarooni proved positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol in further tests, the BHA said last week.
“Regrettably, one of my stables in Europe has recently fallen below the standards that I expect and will tolerate,” Sheikh Mohammed said in Thursday’s statement.
Rules on using drugs in horse racing vary around the world.
Under current rules, the use of anabolic steroids is permitted out of competition in the UAE, as it is in Australia.
Sheikh Mohammed, who temporarily closed the Moulton Paddocks stables and ordered the testing of all the horses in Zarooni’s care after the positive tests, said Godolphin would recover.
“As soon as the internal investigations are complete and the requisite pre-emptory rules are put in place, Godolphin will go from strength to strength and lead, once again, adherence to the highest standards in that gracious sport,” he said.
Godolphin, which takes its name from The Godolphin Arabian, one of the three foundation stallions imported into England nearly 300 years ago, have won 204 Group One races in different countries since Sheikh Mohammed established training operations in Dubai and England in 1992.