ERA Media Release - Mr Sulaiman Al Ghunaimi

The ERA Stewards opened an inquiry on Sunday 6th June 2021, into the notification by the Dubai Equine Forensic Unit (EFU) regarding the presence of Cobalt being detected in a pre-race blood sample taken from SHE’RIS (QA) above the mass concentration of 25 micrograms per litre in plasma, before it raced in Race 6 “Emirates Championship” over 2200 metres at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday 21st March 2021.

Evidence was taken from Mr. Sulaiman Al Ghunaimi (Trainer of SHE’RIS (QA)), 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 Sunday 28th March 2021, ERA Stewards were advised of the irregularity to Cobalt in respect to the pre-race plasma sample taken from SHE’RIS (QA) at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday 21st March 2021.
2. On Monday 29th March 2021, the ERA Stewards informed Mr. S Al Ghunaimi via a telephone call of the sample irregularity to SHE’RIS (QA).
3. On Wednesday 31st March 2021, Mr. S Al Ghunaimi 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 Tuesday 18th March 2021, the ERA Stewards received confirmation from the Hong Kong Laboratory that the presence of Cobalt above the threshold was detected in the reserve urine sample of SHE’RIS (QA).
5. 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.
6. Mr. S Al Ghunaimi could offer no explanation for the elevated level detected in the pre-race blood sample taken from SHE’RIS (QA) at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday 21st March 2021. Further, no pastes or supplements were given to SHE’RIS (QA) on the day of the races.

Trainer Mr. S Al Ghunaimi pleaded guilty to a charge under the provisions of ERA Rule 95AAA 2, in that he presented SHE’RIS (QA) to race in Race 6 “Emirates Championship” over 2200 metres at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday 21st March 2021, 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. S Al Ghunaimi’s guilty plea and record in relation to the prohibited substance rules (see below).

Taking into account these circumstances, Mr. S Al Ghunaimi was disqualified for a period of 12 months, to commence midnight Sunday 6th June, 2021 and to expire midnight Monday 6th June, 2022.

Pursuant to ERA 86(ii), SHE’RIS (QA) was disqualified from 13th position in Race 6 “Emirates Championship” over 2200 metres at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday 21st March 2021, and the placings adjusted accordingly.

Mr. S Al Ghunaimi was advised of his rights of appeal.

Mr. S Al Ghunaimi’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 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. Taylor Wilson and Mr. Ajay Anne.