Dubai Ruler, Husband of FEI Head, Suspended from Horse Racing on Doping Charges

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Apr. 10– Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al- Maktoum, Dubai’s billionaire ruler and husband of FEI President Princess Haya, has been suspended from horse racing after two of his endurance horses tested positive for banned substances, Bloomberg News reported.

The sheikh, a leading world buyer of thoroughbreds, dropped out of the Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Race on April 4 after tests by his staff on two horses detected traces of a steroid and a blood pressure drug, his office said in a statement. The Dubai ruler, a professional rider, had twice competed on the two horses, once at an international event and the other time in the United Arab Emirates.

Princess Haya. File photo. © 2006 Ken Braddick
Princess Haya. File photo. © 2006 Ken Braddick

“Sheikh Mohammed remains suspended from all competition until a decision is made by the FEI tribunal,” Malina Gueorguiev, spokeswoman for the Fédération Equestre Internationale, said by telephone from the world governing body for equestrian sport’s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Sheikh Mohammed is the owner of Godolphin stables and stud farms in the U.K., Ireland, the U.S., Australia and Japan. Last year, he bought Australia’s largest thoroughbred horse breeding business, Woodlands.

The Dubai ruler, who is also prime minister and vice- president of the U.A.E., contacted the FEI and asked the body to annul the results of his horses in the two races, the statement said.

“Whilst completely unaware and utterly condemning the administration of these substances, His Highness has volunteered his acceptance that he is legally the ‘person responsible’,” the royal office said in a statement.

Sheikh Mohammed had started the 120-kilometer (75 miles) Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Race last weekend and was holding a significant lead when he decided to withdraw before completing the course, it said. His son, Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, won the race.

Princess Haya Bin al-Hussein, the sheikh’s wife, is president of the FEI based in Lausanne and is the governing body of the sport of endurance.

Haya said in a statement she will defer her role as head of the organization in the issue of her husband’s doping case.

Haya has repeatedly stressed the FEI’s zero tolerance of doping, and the FEI supported the recent extension to eight months from 120 days the suspension of Germany’s Christian Ahlmann for the use of a banned substance on his horse at the 2008 Olympics.