Mahmood Al Zarooni: may challenge his doping ban
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker
By Mark Scully 11:19AM 3 AUG 2016
MAHMOOD AL ZAROONI has asked solicitors to investigate the soundness of the eight-year ban imposed on him by the BHA in the wake of two recent verdicts against other trainers that have been quashed.
Al Zarooni’s hearing in 2013, during which he admitted doping horses with steroids, was before a disciplinary panel chaired by Matthew Lohn, the solicitor subsequently paid for other work by the BHA, raising a perception of bias that has been enough to justify rehearings in other cases.
The BHA has accepted that verdicts issued by Lohn since October 2013 may be open to challenge, that being the date at which he was instructed to advise the BHA on other matters.
Al Zarooni’s case was heard earlier, in April that year, but he has nevertheless instructed Harry Stewart-Moore to act on his behalf. Stewart-Moore also represents trainer Jim Best, who received a four-year ban this spring that has since been struck out because it was reached by a Lohn-chaired panel. That case is due to be reheard next month.
‘No explanation given’
Stewart-Moore said: “If we’d have had an explanation as to why this happened since it [the BHA’s relationship with Lohn] has been revealed, then I think my client would be more reassured that it might not have pervaded his inquiry.
“Given no explanation has been given, there is a general sense that people don’t know that their hearing was fair when the BHA won’t tell them what went wrong.”
Stewart-Moore added: “We’re not saying there’s anything dodgy, but my client would like some reassurance because at the moment things have been coming out very piecemeal.”
Responding to the news of a possible challenge against the severity of his penalty from Al Zarooni, the BHA’s media manager Robin Mounsey said: “The first approach was made to Matthew Lohn in October 2013 to provide advice on issues unrelated to his work as a disciplinary panel member. While we have had no contact as yet from Mahmood Al Zarooni’s solicitors, the fact is that the case involving Al Zarooni was heard prior to this date.
“The BHA recently announced that it has written to a number of individuals who were party to one of seven disciplinary cases where there might be grounds to claim an appearance of bias (although no suggestion of actual bias) in the panel hearing those cases.
“These were cases in which Matthew Lohn sat as a member of the BHA’s disciplinary panel following his instruction by the BHA in October 2013. The BHA took this action having taken advice from leading counsel Ian Mill QC.”