ERA Media Release - Mr Ahmed Al Shemaili

The ERA Stewards opened an inquiry on Monday 14 June 2021, into the notification by the Dubai Equine Forensic Unit (EFU) that the prohibited substance Hydrochlorothiazide had been detected in the post-race urine sample taken from AF METAWED (AE), subsequent to it racing in the “Crown Prince of Sharjah Prestige” over 1200 metres at Sharjah Racecourse on Saturday 19 December, 2020.

Evidence was taken from Mr Ahmed Al Shemaili (Trainer of AF METAWED (AE)), Dr Kieran Finn (ERA Regulatory Veterinarian) and Dr Michael Subhahar (Chief Analyst – EFU). The following matters were established during the inquiry;
1. On Monday 28 December 2020, the ERA Stewards were advised by the Dubai Equine Forensic Unit of the irregularity to Hydrochlorothiazide in respect to the post-race urine sample taken from AF METAWED (AE).
2. On Monday 4 January, 2021 Mr A Al Shemaili was notified of the irregularity in the sample taken from AF METAWED (AE) via an official stable visit at his licenced premises – “Al Shemaili Stables”.
3. During the stable visit, Mr Al Shemaili advised he is not aware of Hydrochlorothiazide and could offer no explanation for the laboratory’s findings.
4. Further, Mr Al Shemaili advised that he wished to exercise his right under ERA Rule 95D(ii) to have the reserve portion of the original sample analysed by another accredited racing laboratory.
5. During the stable visit the ERA took blood samples from AF METAWED (AE) and four (4) other random horses, as well as recording entries made in the stable’s medical log book.
6. On Tuesday 12 January, 2021 the Dubai Equine Forensic Unit reported to the Stewards that the blood sample taken from AF METAWED (AE) during the stable visit on Monday 4 January, 2021 had detected the presence of Dexamethasone.
7. On Friday 5 February, 2021 the ERA Stewards received confirmation from Racing Analytical Services Limited that the presence of Hydrochlorothiazide was detected in the reserve portion of the urine sample taken from AF METAWED (AE).
8. Evidence was tendered by Dr. K Finn that Hydrochlorothiazide is a diuretic commonly used in small animal veterinary treatments and as a human congestive heart failure treatment. Dr Finn added that although Hydrochlorothiazide could be used in horses, other more suitable drugs that perform the same functions are readily available. It was noted that the ERA does not advise of a withholding period for Hydrochlorothiazide as it isn’t a substance that would normally be administered to a horse.
9. Evidence was tendered by Dr Subhahar that Hydrochlorothiazide has a fast excretion time from the body and would expect a dose to have left the body within three to four days.
10. Dr Subhahar added that the urine sample provided by AF METAWED (AE) returned a very low level of Hydrochlorothiazide.
11. Mr Al Shemaili advised the Stewards that on Saturday 12 December, 2020 another horse in his stable was exhibiting signs of swelling and that on veterinary advice he added a sachet of a product called “Diurdex” (which contains Hydrochlorothiazide) to that horse’s water bucket.
12. Mr Al Shemaili added that when his grooms were due to clean AF METAWED’s (AE) stable they moved the horse into the stable containing the water with “Diurdex” added to it, while that horse was exercising.
13. Mr Al Shemaili then explained that subsequent to AF METAWED (AE) racing at Sharjah on Saturday 19 December, 2020 the horse was showing signs of soreness and for this reason his veterinarian administered Dexamethasone as treatment.
14. When Mr Al Shemaili was asked why the Dexamethasone was not recorded in the medical log book, he replied that the veterinarian refused to complete the records in when requested.
15. Stewards reminded Mr Al Shemaili that the ERA Rules are clear in that the obligation is on the Trainer to ensure the medical log books are completed for every treatment and/or medication given to a horse in his stable.

Trainer Mr Al Shemaili pleaded guilty to a charge under the provisions of ERA Rule 95AAA 2, in that he presented AF METAWED (AE) to race in the “Crown Prince of Sharjah Prestige” over 1200 metres at Sharjah Racecourse on Saturday 19 December, 2020, which was subsequently found, upon analysis of a post-race urine sample, to have had Hydrochlorothiazide administered to it, a prohibited substance under the ERA Rules of Racing.

In determining the appropriate penalty in this case, the Stewards considered a number of factors including:
• The circumstances of the offence, that being Mr Al Shemaili was able to provide a plausible explanation;
• The nature of the prohibited substance detected, that being a substance not prescribed for horses;
• General and specific deterrence;
• The integrity and image of racing in the UAE;
• Mr Al Shemaili’s co-operation throughout the inquiry;
• Mr Al Shemaili’s guilty plea and clear record in relation to the prohibited substance rules

Mr Al Shemaili was fined the sum of AED 25,000.

Pursuant to ERA 86(ii), AF METAWED (AE) was disqualified from eleventh (11th) placing in the “Crown Prince of Sharjah Prestige” over 1200 metres at Sharjah Racecourse on Saturday 19 December, 2020 and the placings were adjusted accordingly.

Additionally Mr Al Shemaili pleaded guilty to a charge under the provisions of ERA Rule 31B(iv), in that he failed to maintain medical records of all medication, tonics and treatments to horses in his care, by failing to record the treatment of Dexamethasone given to AF METAWED (AE), as evidenced by the analysis of a blood sample taken from that horse at Al Shemaili Stables on Monday 4 January, 2021. Mr Al Shemaili was fined AED 5,000.

Mr Al Shemaili was advised of his rights of appeal.

Relevant Rules:
ERA Rule 31B
(i) All Trainers must keep records of all administrations of Medications, tonics and treatments to Horse in their care.
(iv) Trainers who fail to maintain medical records or cannot produce the aforementioned records are guilty of an Offence.

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 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 Taylor Wilson (Chairman), Mr Sam Shinsky and Mr Ajay Anne.