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Volume 6 No. 215

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s British racing operation "was engulfed in scandal" after prohibited substances were reported in 11 of his horses, according to Alan Lee of the LONDON TIMES. All are trained for horseracing stable Godolphin by Emirati horseracing trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni and "include the unbeaten filly Certify, who must now miss the Qipco 1,000 Guineas on May 5." The British Horseracing Authority, which discovered the “serious irregularities” during routine testing, has "suspended all the horses and summoned Al Zarooni to a disciplinary inquiry." However, the trainer, whose future with the Godolphin team "must now be in serious doubt, has admitted his guilt." Al Zarooni said, "I deeply regret what has happened. I have made a catastrophic error. Because the horses involved were not racing at the time, I did not realize that what I was doing was in breach of the Rules of Racing." The apology "may not save Al Zarooni." Despite his "soaring status" in Godolphin during an initial three seasons in Newmarket that brought him two domestic classics among almost 200 winners, such transgressions "are unlikely to be tolerated within a stable that stakes so much on its global reputation" (LONDON TIMES, 4/23).

DARK DAY: In London, Marcus Armytage reported while Godolphin "might one day just recover from the taint this brings" to Sheikh Mohammed’s organization, Al Zarooni is "facing a long or possibly lifetime ban" from the sport after admitting administering. His employment prospects within Godolphin "must be under threat." Given the seriousness of the case, the BHA "is trying to fix a date for that inquiry as soon as possible." The BHA has "already moved at speed" after the Horseracing Forensic Laboratory "contacted them on Monday with news of the positive tests" (TELEGRAPH, 4/22). The GULF NEWS reported Godolphin has "initiated an urgent review into procedures and controls" related to the operations of one of their racing stables in England. In a statement on Godolphin's website, Racing Manager Simon Crisford said, "This is a dark day for Godolphin. We are all shocked by what has happened. His Highness Sheikh Mohammad was absolutely appalled when he was told and this is completely unacceptable to him. We will await the outcome of the BHA inquiry before taking any further internal action" (GULF NEWS, 4/23).

TESTING POSITIVE: The BANGKOK POST reported the trainer said that he "had made a catastrophic mistake." All the horses who tested positive are "barred from racing until further notice" by the BHA, which will also "hold a disciplinary hearing into the case." The BHA said that on April 9, "samples were obtained from 45 horses trained by Al Zarooni at Moulton Paddocks Stables." On Monday afternoon, the Horseracing Forensic Laboratory said that 11 of the samples had "prohibited substances, namely ethylestranol and stanozolol" (BANGKOK POST, 4/23). BHA Dir Of Integrity, Legal and Risk Adam Brickell said, "Ethylestranol and stanozolol are anabolic steroids and therefore Prohibited Substances under British Rules of Racing, at any time -- either in training or racing. Mahmood Al Zarooni has been advised of the analysts' findings and has been visited by an Investigating Officer" (London TELEGRAPH, 4/23).

'EMBARRASSING' ROW: The BBC's Cornelius Lysaght wrote "it is impossible to underestimate how embarrassing this doping bombshell is for Sheikh Mohammed." This stable is "like no other, in that the hands-on approach adopted by the Sheikh -- known as 'the Boss' -- is legendary." It is "constantly emphasised how few decisions, from numerous horse purchases to race strategy and tactics, are made without reference to him, wherever he may be." There is no suggestion at all that Sheikh Mohammed "has done anything wrong." However, this all "seems to have unfolded pretty much right under his nose and under those of the large retinue of professionals and advisers which oversee the operation" (BBC, 4/23).

DIFFERENT RULES DOWN UNDER: In Sydney, Michael Sharkie reported Al Zarooni "would have escaped penalty under Australian rules of racing where out-of-competition steroid use is permitted." Racing Victoria vet Dr. Brian Stewart said that the two anabolic steroids found in 11 Al Zarooni-trained horses "were legal to use in Australia, as long as they were not present on race day." Stewart said that Australian authorities "had a different view to anabolic steroids than the zero tolerance approach taken in Britain and said there were definite therapeutic benefits of such drugs" (SMH, 4/24).

National Rugby League CEO Dave Smith "finally emerged from the shadows to unveil the game's most significant management shake-up since Super League" -- headed by Todd Greenberg's appointment as head of football, according to Andrew Webster of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. Former New Zealand Rugby League CEO Jim Doyle -- "who made his fortune in another life as the founder of GPS company Navman" -- has been appointed COO. Greenberg will not leave his post as Canterbury Bulldogs CEO until Aug. 1. Doyle "will now head two of seven newly created business units at the NRL." Smith: "This is the structure that's going to take us forward into the future. Unashamedly, we've got to build a structure that represents the fact that we've got whole-of-the-game responsibility, we've got a A$1.2B ($1.23B) rights deal and we've got an ambition for growth." The announcement came after "a barrage of criticism" was directed at Smith. NRL insiders said that "the sweeping changes stunned staff members when they were informed yesterday morning" -- even though they had known a shake-up was coming for weeks. Former interim CEO Shane Mattiske "has been installed as head of strategy," with long-time Marketing Manager Paul Kind moved into head of commercial operations, "meaning he will handle broadcast negotiations" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 4/24).

A KEY MOVE: In Sydney, Richard Hinds wrote the appointment of Greenberg "fills a gaping hole." The NRL "will have an empowered, articulate administrator overseeing football operations." One who understands intimately the inner-working of clubs, "and who can shoulder the day to day burden of executing and explaining on-field policy." That, in turn, "will allow Smith to devote his time to improving the game's bottom line, political engagement and infrastructure." It is a move that, for a few hours at least, "should satisfy the blowhards and malcontents who had Smith in the cross-hairs the moment he walked into Rugby League HQ" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 4/23). Also in Sydney, Stuart Honeysett wrote Greenberg admitted that "he has designs on running the NRL, but for the moment he's happy to play second in command and learn from Smith." Greenberg: "I've still got a lot to learn and I've got a lot of development to do and by taking this role and working with Dave, it gives me a huge professional development opportunity to actually learn a lot of the skills that are required to run what is now a billion-dollar business. I don't shy away from the fact that one day I'd like to run the game, but my time's not now" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 4/24).

MAKING A CASE: In Sydney, Brad Walter wrote Smith "called for the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority to present any evidence of illegal drug use by players as interviews were again delayed." Smith: "The ASADA discussion has been ongoing for a number of weeks as we all know so we are pushing hard with the ASADA team for them to complete their investigation, and we need the investigation to get completed. ... We are continuing to push hard. It is just a question of getting through it. We need to make sure we get the thing complete, and that means getting the interviews done" (SMH, 4/24).

New Spanish Football League (LFP) President Javier Tebas said Tuesday that addressing match fixing is his top priority, according to MARCA. Teba said that the country needs to abandon the "anything goes" culture that meant clubs under pressure bought games. Tebas said, "If matches can be fixed, that shows that the competition is not in the proper shape. We have to take a step further in denouncing something that his happening, in isolation, but it is taking place. This must be ended and the clubs are in agreement with me. I am not going to put a pistol to anyone's head to make them speak up but I would be grateful if they would come forward." Tebas said his other priorities are the regulation of competition and audiovisual rights. Tebas: "In TV distribution we are going to come much closer to the Italian model than the British. Every place has its reason for being and in Spain we cannot avoid the driving forces that we have. ... I have said it and I will repeat it: a strong Real Madrid and a strong Barcelona, the same as Atlético or Valencia, benefits us all. If they are weak at the international level, it also weakens the rest. One has to look for the point of equilibrium" (MARCA, 4/23). 

British Indian Premier League pundit Simon Hughes believes that "match-rigging claims levelled at the tournament are wide of the mark." The analyst for U.K. broadcaster ITV has been a keen watcher of the IPL since its inception in '08 and he said that "the players have too much to lose to risk fixing for a fast buck" (GULF NEWS, 4/23). ... Australian football chiefs have demanded answers after a "damning report" claimed that a $462,000 donation made to a Caribbean football organization "was allegedly stolen by disgraced former FIFA kingpin Jack Warner" (AFP, 4/23). ... Indian rifle shooter and Olympic Silver Medalist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore "notched up a huge legal victory at the Delhi High Court on Monday when he got the election of office bearers to the National Rifle Association of India quashed." Justice P.K. Bhasin "allowed Rathore's plea to quash the nomination of eight members to the general body of NRAI, including its President Raninder Singh, for depriving the ace shooter an opportunity to contest the election of the sports body" (TNN, 4/23). ... An official from the Indonesia’s top flight competition said that Indonesian football player Pieter Rumaropen "could face heavy punishment after punching a referee in the face during a Super League match last weekend" (JAKARTA GLOBE, 4/23). ... A sentencing date in the Operation Puerto doping case has been announced. Judge Julia Patricia Santamaría summoned the five accused, Eufemiano Fuentes, Ignacio Labarta, Manolo Saiz, Vicente Belda and Yolanda Fuentes to a sentencing hearing in Madrid on April 30. Each of the five faces a maximum penalty of two-and-a-half years for endangering public health (AS, 4/23).