Sheikh hires APCO to defend image after horse scandal

LONDON: The ruler of Dubai has called in APCO Worldwide to deal with the media after 11 of his racehorses tested positive for banned substances in Britain.

LONDON: The ruler of Dubai has called in APCO Worldwide to deal with the media after 11 of his racehorses tested positive for banned substances in Britain.

The reputation of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his Godolphin stables, which span Britain and Dubai, was shaken by one of the biggest doping scandals to hit UK sports.

The global PR agency, which has an office in Dubai, is defending the sheikh, who has been involved in British horseracing for more than 30 years and is described as the sport's biggest investor.

APCO issued a statement following the disclosure by the British Horseracing Authority that the horses had tested positive for anabolic steroids.

The firm is also understood to have dealt with sports journalists to take them through the cases and stress that the sheikh was not personally aware of the use of steroids at his stables.

In the statement, the Sheikh said he was “appalled and angered to learn one of our stables in Newmarket has violated Godolphin's ethical standards and the rules of British racing.”

The Horseracing Authority subsequently banned a Godolphin trainer, Mahmood Al Zarooni, for eight years and restricted 15 horses from racing for six months. Al Zarooni said in a statement released by Godolphin: “I have made a catastrophic error.”

British horseracing is at risk of being dragged into another drug scandal after reports that the authority was investigating a number of positive samples at a separate yard belonging to horse trainer Gerard Butler.

It stressed the two cases were not linked, and the source of the positive samples at Butler's stables was a licensed veterinary product.

APCO declined to comment, and Godolphin was unavailable for comment.

SCANDAL TIMELINE
May 4-5:
Qipco Guineas Festival, in which Godolphin horse Dawn Approach is expected to compete.

April 25:
Mahmood Al Zarooni banned by British Horseracing Authority for eight years.

April 24:
Sheikh Mohammed says: “We will lock down the Moulton Paddocks stables with immediate effect.”

April 22:
Eleven samples from Moulton Paddocks test positive for steroids.

This story originally appeared on the website of PRWeek UK, the sister publication of PRWeek at Haymarket Media.

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