ERA Media Release – Mr Khalifa Al Mazrouei
The ERA Stewards opened an inquiry on Thursday 1st June 2023, into the notification by the Dubai Equine Forensic Unit (EFU) regarding the presence of Cobalt being detected in a pre-race plasma sample taken from MISHAAL AL WATHBA (AE) above the mass concentration of 25 micrograms per litre in plasma, before it raced in Race 2 “Falaj Hazza – UAE Bred Maiden” over 1800 metres at Al Ain Racecourse on Saturday 18th March 2023. Evidence was taken from Mr. Khalifa Al Mazrouei (Trainer of MISHAAL AL WATHBA (AE)), Dr. Kieran Finn (ERA Regulatory Veterinarian) and Dr. Michael Subhahar (Chief Analyst – Dubai Equine Forensic Unit). The following matters were established during the inquiry; 1. On Tuesday 28th March 2023, ERA Stewards were advised of the irregularity to Cobalt in respect to the pre-race plasma sample taken from MISHAAL AL WATHBA (AE) at Al Ain Racecourse on Saturday 18th March 2023. 2. On Thursday 30th March 2023, the ERA Stewards informed Mr. K Al Mazrouei of the irregularity via a stable visit at registered training location, Azam Stable, in Abu Dhabi. Mr. K Al Mazrouei was unable to explain the elevated level of Cobalt detected. Additionally, the Stewards found no evidence of any products that would lead to such discoveries. 3. On Thursday 30th March 2023, Mr. K Al Mazrouei 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 20th April 2023, the ERA Stewards received confirmation from the Hong Kong Laboratory that the presence of Cobalt above the threshold was detected in the reserve plasma sample of MISHAAL AL WATHBA (AE). 5. Mr. K Al Mazrouei was unable to explain the reason for the elevated level of Cobalt detected, with no record of any treatment to MISHAAL AL WATHBA (AE). 6. Dr. K Finn advised that Cobalt is a trace mineral naturally found in the earth’s crust and therefore found in many feeds, hence an international threshold has been set on the substance when analysed in race-day samples. It also makes up part of Vitamin B12. Cobalt can induce hypoxia like responses which can cause gene modulation at the hypoxia inducible factor pathway to induce erythropoietin transcription, the production of new red blood cells with the hope that extra red blood cells will carry more oxygen to working muscles and allow the horse to increase performance. When a concentration of Cobalt is found above the international threshold level in a race-day sample it is considered to be a positive sample. Further, the feeding regime advised by Mr. K Al Mazrouei would not result in the elevated Cobalt level detected in MISHAAL AL WATHBA’s (AE) sample from Saturday 18th March 2023. Trainer Mr. K Al Mazrouei pleaded guilty to a charge under the provisions of ERA Rule 95AAA 2, in that he presented MISHAAL AL WATHBA (AE) to race in Race 2 “Falaj Hazza – UAE Bred Maiden” over 1800 metres at Al Ain Racecourse on Saturday 18th March 2023, which was subsequently found, upon analysis of a pre-race plasma sample, to have had Cobalt administered to it, as evidenced by a concentration of Cobalt in excess of 25 micrograms per litre in plasma. 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. K Al Mazrouei’s guilty plea and record in relation to the prohibited substance rules (see below). Taking into account these circumstances, Mr. K Al Mazrouei was disqualified for a period of 12 months, to commence midnight Thursday 1st June 2023 and to expire midnight Saturday 1st June, 2024. Pursuant to ERA 86(ii), MISHAAL AL WATHBA (AE) was disqualified from 11th place from Race 2 “Falaj Hazza – UAE Bred Maiden” over 1800 metres at Al Ain Racecourse on Saturday 18th March 2023, and the placings adjusted accordingly. Mr. K Al Mazrouei was advised of his rights of appeal. Mr. K Al Mazrouei’s record in relation to prohibited substances: 17th November 2019 was fined the sum of AED 25,000 for presenting ALABER (AE) at Meydan Racecourse for an official trial with the prohibited substance Phenylbutazone. 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 perform 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. Rashid Alblooshi, and Mr. Manav Vaya.