Ismail Mohammed cleared of intentional wrongdoing in Doncaster ketamine case
Ismail Mohammed was cleared of intentionally administering the banned substance ketamine to a horse in his care by the independent disciplinary panel on Thursday but was fined £1,000 for not taking sufficient measures to prevent cross-contamination.
In what was described as a “complex and unusual” case by the three-man panel, Mohammed, 56, was quizzed on his knowledge of turkey basters and revealed his employers, the Dubai Racing Club, had spent £35,000 on private investigators to trace a former member of staff suspected of being the source of the positive test.
That ex-member of staff, referred to throughout as "the female groom", was accused by the defence of being the most likely reason that metabolites of ketamine were found in the post-race sample of Amazour after his victory in a 6½f handicap at Doncaster in September 2017.
No source for the ketamine was established during the inquiry and in a formal statement the female groom said that, although she had never taken any, social drug use had occurred among staff in yards where she worked in Newmarket.
Under cross-examination by the BHA’s barrister Louis Weston, Mohammed admitted the basis for his claim was no more than rumour.
“I'd never spoken to the female groom other than to say hello or good morning," he said. "I don’t know her personally. There was talk in Newmarket about drugs. I heard about it but have no evidence of it.
“We do not have any evidence of anyone in our yard taking drugs. I am not aware of anyone in my yard taking drugs. I don’t know about it and I don’t see it.”
Mohammed was also asked about an allegation by the female groom that Paul Harrison, another former member of the trainer’s staff, used a turkey baster to squirt liquid into the mouth of Amazour before the Doncaster run, a claim described as “baseless” by Mohammed’s barrister Jonathan Laidlaw QC.
The trainer added: “I have no idea how it can be used for horses – I’ve never heard of it. I don’t believe the statement. Paul would not do that, no way.”
BHA investigators found Mohammed's medical book had been corrected with Tipp-Ex on occasions but that his Newmarket yard had a “high level of cleanliness, was well run and neat” and that unintentional contamination was the most likely reason for the positive test.
Laidlaw questioned why ketamine would be administered to a horse thought to have a winning chance and said there had been unsatisfactory cleaning of the stables at Doncaster in the run-up to Amazour's race.
Delivering the verdict, Brian Barker, chairman of the panel, said that, while Mohammed had not intentionally administered ketamine, more should have been done to prevent any cross-contamination.
He said: “We don’t find there was any intentional administration. However, there is evidence of insufficient measures to ensure the enforcement of a zero-tolerance approach to drugs, or supervisory control of a number of areas. As such, we levy a fine of £1,000.”
Mohammed offered no comment after the hearing but in a short statement his solicitor Harry Stewart-Moore said: “Mr Mohammed is very pleased with the finding that the drug was not administered intentionally. He would like to thank the panel for the attention they gave the case.”
Amazour was disqualified from first place in the 6½f handicap and all prizes forfeited.
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