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Dope seizure embarrasses Sheikh Mohammed

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Flat racing is beginning to challenge cycling and sprinting as one of the most doped-up sports on the planet. The latest scandal piles further embarrassment on one of the sport's leading figures, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai, the most powerful racehorse owner in British racing.

A shipment of equine drugs was seized at Stansted airport from a private jet owned by the government of Dubai. They included drugs designed to speed up the regeneration of bone tissue. The drugs are prohibited under the rules of endurance racing.

The Sheikh has ordered an enquiry into how the drugs came to be on the plane, but the implications are damning for a figure at the pinnacle of flat racing, especially when combined with recent events.

Trainer Mahmood al-Zarooni was banned from racing for eight years for administering anabolic steroids to 22 racehorses owned by the Sheikh at the Moulton Paddocks stable in Newmarket. It's notable that horses trained in stables owned by the Maktoum family have been involved in 24 doping cases in the last eight years.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs discovered unlicensed equine drugs at Moorley Farm, owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s ­Darley breeding operation, where his endurance racing horses are based during the summer.

Closer to home, the Sheikh himself was banned from endurance riding by the International Equestrian Federation in 2009 after a horse he rode tested positive for a steroid. That was all the more embarrassing because his wife, Princess Haya of Jordan, is the Federation president and has campaigned to clean up the sport. Her main priority may be getting her own house in order.

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