UK & World News
Doping Scandal: Bookmakers To Refund Bets
Ladbrokes and William Hill have announced they are to refund thousands of pounds' worth of bets placed on horses which tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
The news comes as British racing faces its biggest-ever doping scandal after 11 horses at one of the country's top racing stables tested positive for anabolic steroids.
Ladbrokes has said it will return £200,000 worth of bets placed on horses tested positive for steroids. William Hill said it would refund all ante-post bets on four horses from the Godolphin stables - Certify, Desert Bloom, Artigiano and Restraint Of Trade.
Coral has confirmed it is also refunding bets placed on the same four horses.
William Hill spokesperson Kate Miller said: ''This is an unprecedented eventuality, and no-one betting could have predicted these events.
"We believe the fairest result for our customers is to refund their bets placed on the Godolphin runners.''
Paddy Power is to refund all bets on Certify for the 1000 Guineas while it checks its position on other affected horses.
Trainer Mahmood al Zarooni will have to attend a disciplinary hearing and faces a lengthy ban from the sport after admitting administering the drugs at the Godolphin stables in Newmarket.
The positive tests at the stables owned by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum were revealed after spot tests on 45 horses by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).
The animals that failed included Certify, the ante-post favourite for next month's 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket, and 2012 Royal Ascot Gold Cup runner-up Opinion Poll.
Mr al Zarooni admitted that he had administered two steroids, but claimed he did not know it was an offence to use the drugs when the horses were not racing.
In a statement, he 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 realise that what I was doing was in breach of the rules of racing.
"I can only apologise for the damage this will cause to Godolphin and to racing generally."
The episode is deeply embarrassing for Godolphin's patron Sheikh Mohammed, who has invested hundreds of millions of pounds in British racing over the last 20 years.
His racing manager Simon Crisford said the findings marked a "dark day" for the stables.
"His Highness Sheikh Mohammed 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.
"Sheikh Mohammed has instructed me to begin an urgent review of all of our procedures and controls. That is already under way and we will take advice from the BHA in completing it," he said.
It is highly unusual for performance-enhancing drugs to be revealed by doping tests in racing.
Most of the 25 to 30 positive tests revealed in an average year are for medication used in breach of the rules.
The samples were taken from the Godolphin stables in Moulton Paddocks, Newmarket, on April 9.
Seven horses were found to have ethylestranol in their system, and four the drug stanozolol, the steroid used by disgraced Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson at the Seoul Olympics.
Adam Brickell, director of integrity, legal and risk for the BHA, said: "Ethylestranol and stanozolol are anabolic steroids and therefore prohibited substances under British Rules of Racing, at any time - either in training or racing.
"The horses which have produced positive tests will also not be permitted to race with immediate effect and for an extended period of time.
"As part of the ongoing process a decision will be made as to what period this suspension will be imposed for."
National Trainers Federation chief executive Rupert Arnold said he had been "shocked" by the test results.
"The Godolphin management, for whom Mr al Zarooni trains, is a byword for the highest levels of professionalism, integrity and sportsmanship," he said.
"News reports so far suggest this case is an aberration and is not indicative of wider use of anabolic steroids in British horseracing.
"We fully endorse the British Horseracing Authority's testing in training regime and all efforts to prevent the use of any prohibited substance to gain an unfair advantage.
"Without wanting to diminish the seriousness of this case, in some ways it is a positive message that the presence of these substances was detected so the sport is kept clean."
The Godolphin stable was founded in 1992 and has won more than 2,000 races worldwide, with winners in 14 countries.
Mr al Zarooni has trained a series of big-race winners since joining Sheikh Mohammed's operation three years ago.
They include the richest race in the world - the Dubai World Cup - with Monterosso last March, and then the St Leger at Doncaster with Encke in September.