Racehorse trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni "paid the ultimate penalty for his deception" when the British Horseracing Authority "handed an eight-year disqualification from the racing after admitting to doping 15 horses owned by his employer Godolphin," according to J.A. McGrath of the London TELEGRAPH. Al Zarooni "cannot set foot on a racecourse or licensed premises, including training stables, until 2021, which in reality means he is finished in the sport." The trainer "pleaded guilty to multiple charges of breaching the Rules of Racing, under the headings of trainers administering outlawed drugs, their responsibility for keeping veterinary records and bringing the sport into disrepute" (TELEGRAPH, 4/25). In another piece, the TELEGRAPH reported Al Zarooni "was surrounded by a media scrum" as he arrived at BHA headquarters "to face a disciplinary hearing over doping" Thursday. Al Zarooni "entered the building in central London with Simon Crisford, racing manager for the Godolphin operation, but did not speak to waiting reporters" (TELEGRAPH, 4/25).
HORSES SUSPENDED: In London, Mike Brewer wrote the 15 horses at the center of the doping case "have been banned from racing for six months." The suspension of the 15 horses "reflects the period beyond which the BHA is confident that the horses in question can have derived no performance-related benefit from the prohibited substances." The bans "will effectively rule the 15 horses out for the campaign with just four-and-a-half weeks left of the turf season when the ban ends" (LONDON TIMES, 4/25).
'TERRIBLE DAY': REUTERS' Justin Palmer reported Crisford described it as "a terrible day for British racing." He said, "This is a terrible situation. It's an awful situation that Godolphin has found themselves in. Mr. Al Zarooni acted with awful recklessness and caused tremendous damage, not only to Godolphin and British racing." BHA CEO Paul Bittar said, "We believe that the eight-year disqualification issued to Mahmood Al Zarooni by the disciplinary panel, together with the six month racing restriction placed on the horses in question by the BHA, will serve to reassure the public, and the sport's participants, that use of performance-enhancing substances in British Racing will not be tolerated and that the sport has in place a robust and effective anti-doping and medication control program" (REUTERS, 4/25).
All England Club Chair Philip Brook has "given the clearest indication that the four grand-slam tournaments have 'done their bit' by agreeing to extravagant increases in prize money" and that the ATP and WTA "need to make a greater contribution to the future welfare of their players," according to Neil Harman of the LONDON TIMES. Brook said, "The grand slams now account for almost half of all the prize money in professional tennis and the hope is that the rest of the sport will step up now and follow the lead set by Wimbledon and the other three slams." Harman wrote after "a year of munificence" with prize money increases at the Australian Open, the French Open and the U.S. Open, it is "time for someone else to pick up the slack." ATP Board of Directors representative Justin Gimelstob has been a "leading advocate for a greater spread of the wealth from the grand slams and recognizes that his own organisation must respond in turn." Gimelstob Wednesday said, "I am probably as proud of what we have achieved with our partners at the grand slams as anything in my career. But I agree 100 percent that we now have to look to our own backyard" (LONDON TIMES, 4/25).
The NBA revealed Thursday that NBA teams and players will donate 1M yuan ($162,048) "to support earthquake relief efforts in Southwest China." The contributions "will be delivered to the China Youth Development Foundation through the league's global social responsibility program, NBA Cares, to aid victims and their families of Lushan, Sichuan province in disaster relief and rebuilding efforts" (XINHUA, 4/25). ... Intelligence agencies have written to the Chennai police to enhance security arrangements for the ongoing Indian Premier League cricket matches at the M.A. Chidambaram stadium. In a two-page note sent to the Police Commissioner, intelligence agencies suggested that watch towers be erected at strategic locations around the stadium. Police sources said that "deployment of additional manpower, surveillance cameras and plainclothesmen was suggested at vantage points" (THE HINDU, 4/25). ... FIFA is launching a museum in its home city of Zurich, Switzerland "designed to be a meeting point for the enire football family including fans, clubs and sponsors" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 4/25). ... New Zealand Rugby Union CEO Steve Tew hailed '12 as "their best year" since '05. The union's 121st annual meeting in Wellington Wednesday was told of a NZ$3.2M ($2.7M) operating surplus, its first since '08, and NZ$51.9M ($44.3M) in cash reserves (FAIRFAX NZ NEWS, 4/25). ... An appeal by Greek football club AEK Athens to have its "punishment for crowd violence overturned failed on Thursday as the Greek Football Federation (EPO) upheld the Greek Super League that led to the club's relegation" (REUTERS, 4/25).