Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Doping at This Stable Too Big to Fail Needs a Proper Inquiry

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Doping at This Stable Too Big to Fail Needs a Proper Inquiry

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Armitage

FOR the trainer at Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin stables today, justice comes swiftly. It was only late on Monday that we learned the world's most influential racing business had been caught pumping performance-enhancing drugs into its horses like Soviet Olympians of the Eighties.

Now, just a day after formal charges were levied, Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni was up against the industry's regulatory body for his trial and sentencing. It's an investigation on steroids, in all senses of the phrase, whose speed is leaving some in the business uncomfortable.

In the papers and on the airwaves, the racing world has declared itself flabbergasted at the scandal. Even its journalists were almost dazed at the enormity (and not just because they'd been enjoying a hospitalityfilled trip to Jim Bolger's stables ahead of the Punchestown Festival when it broke).

Al Zarooni apologised instantly for his "catastrophic error". But there are many questions beyond his straight guilt or innocence that need lengthy investigation -- primarily around questions of motivation and conspiracy.

I can't think of many other industries in which the protagonist in one of the biggest scandals in its history comes before the regulatory authorities to be tried, judged and convicted so rapidly.

But then, Godolphin is no ordinary business, and racing is no ordinary industry.

In the words of one turf specialist yesterday, Godolphin is the stable that, like Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays, is "too big to fail". Godolphin, and Sheikh Mohammed, pictured at Ascot, has become so hugely powerful in the sport, investing hundreds of millions of pounds around the world, that for it to pull out would bring catastrophe on the industry. Stables such as Coolmore might be archrivals, but they need Godolphin's money to keep the whole game going. …

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