ERA Media Release - Mr Omar Daraj

The ERA Stewards opened an inquiry on Monday 8th April 2019, into the notification by the Dubai Equine Forensic Unit that the pre-race urine sample taken from GENERAL LINE (USA) prior to it competing in Race 2 “Shadwell Farm Handicap” over 1000 metres at Al Ain Racecourse on Friday 1st March 2019, was found to have a concentration of Cobalt in excess of 100 micrograms per litre in urine.

Evidence was taken from Mr. Omar Daraj (Trainer), Dr. Kieran Finn (ERA Regulatory Veterinarian) and Mr. Jahfar Nalakath (Chief Analyst – Dubai Equine Forensic Unit). The following matters were established during the inquiry;
1. On Sunday 10th March 2019, ERA Stewards were advised of the irregularity to Cobalt in respect to the pre-race urine sample taken from GENERAL LINE (USA) at Al Ain Racecourse on Friday 1st March, 2019.
2. On Tuesday 12th March 2019, the ERA Stewards informed Mr. O Daraj of the sample irregularity with a stable visit at his registered training location “Al Shamal Stable”. Mr. O Daraj was unable to offer an explanation for the elevated level of Cobalt returned in GENERAL LINE (USA). Stewards obtained a blood sample from GENERAL LINE (USA) at the stables to be analysed for Cobalt.
3. On Tuesday 12th March 2019, Mr. O Daraj advised that he wished to exercise his right to have the reserve portion of the sample analysed by another accredited racing laboratory in accordance with ERA Rule 95D(ii).
4. On Thursday 14th March 2019, the ERA Stewards were advised that the blood sample taken from GENERAL LINE (USA), on Tuesday 12th March 2019, to be analysed for cobalt, returned a level of 1.9 micrograms per litre in plasma, with the international threshold being 25 micrograms per litre in plasma.
5. On Wednesday 27th March 2019, the ERA Stewards received confirmation from the Hong Kong Jockey Club that the presence of Cobalt above the urine threshold was detected in the reserve sample of GENERAL LINE (USA).
6. Mr. O Daraj could offer no explanation throughout the inquiry, as to how the cobalt level in GENERAL LINE (USA) exceeded the permitted threshold.

Trainer Mr. O Daraj was found guilty to a charge under the provisions of ERA Rule 95AAA 2, in that he presented GENERAL LINE (USA) to race in Race 2 “Shadwell Farm Handicap” over 1000 metres at Al Ain Racecourse on Friday 1st March 2019, which was subsequently found, upon analysis of a pre-race urine sample, to have had cobalt administered to it, as evidenced by a concentration of cobalt in excess of 100 micrograms per litre in urine.

In determining an appropriate penalty, the Stewards considered a number of factors including:
• The circumstances of the offence;
• The seriousness of the offence, involving the presentation of Cobalt above the threshold level;
• General and specific deterrence;
• The integrity and image of racing in the UAE;
• Previous penalties imposed for offences under ERA Rule 95AAA 2 in relation to cobalt;
• Mr. O Daraj’s guilty plea and record in relation to the prohibited substance rules (see below).

Taking into account these circumstances, Mr. O Daraj was disqualified for a period of 12 months, to commence midnight Monday 8th April, 2019 and to expire midnight Wednesday 8th April, 2020.

Pursuant to ERA 86(ii), GENERAL LINE (USA) was disqualified from eleventh (11th) position from Race 2 “Shadwell Farm Handicap” over 1000 metres at Al Ain Racecourse on Friday 1st March 2019 and the placings were adjusted accordingly.

Mr. O Daraj’s s record in relation to prohibited substances:
No prior breaches.

Relevant Rules:
ERA 86(ii) – Where any declared runner has been the subject of an examination under the Rules 8(vi) and or (vii) and has been found to have received a Prohibited Substances, the Horse shall be disqualified from the Race and from other Races as the ERA determines.

ERA Rule 95AA – The ERA gives notice that the following substances are also deemed to be Prohibited Substances when presented above these thresholds:
* Cobalt at a mass concentration of 100 micrograms per litre in urine or 25 micrograms per litre in plasma

ERA Rule 95AAA 2 – Any Trainer or other Person in charge of a Horse, which is presented to Race or performed a Test, or has Raced or performed a Test which is found (upon analysis) to have had administered to it a Prohibited Substance, shall be liable to a Penalty.

ERA Rules 95D(ii) – Upon the detection by an Accredited Racing Laboratory of a Prohibited Substance in the Sample from a Horse, such laboratory shall notify its finding to the Stewards, who shall then notify the Trainer of the Horse of such finding and give him the option to have the reserve portion of the Sample Tested at another ERA-approved Accredited Racing Laboratory. The Trainer will have 3 days to notify the Stewards of such requirement. A refusal by the Trainer to Test the reserve portion of the Sample shall not prevent the Stewards from having the reserve portion of the Sample Tested.

Stewards Panel:
• Mr. Sam Shinsky (Chairman), Mr. Taylor Wilson, Mr. Ajay Anne, Mr. Hamad Al Shamsi and Mr. Dhahi Al Jallaf (Trainee).