First winner stripped of title after dope test of horse

Our Sports Reporter
Filed on January 29, 2005

DUBAI - Shaikh Hazza bin Sultan Al Nahyan was stripped of his FEI Endurance World Championship gold medal after his horse, Hachim, was tested positive for prohibited substances. Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, President of the UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation, told reporters that the horse has been tested positive for a prohibitive substance in the mandatory blood test carried out after the race. “A second blood sample will be done on the horse and if that was negative, Shaikh Hazza bin Sultan will be reinstated as the winner and returned the gold medal,” said Dr Shaikh Sultan.

His disqualification gave Barbara Lissarague of France the gold, the silver to General Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Minister of Defence, and the bronze to Shaikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Shaikh Mohammed added another title to his impressive collection of endurance awards when his nine-year-old home bred bay gelding, Nashmi, was adjudged the Best Conditioned Horse of the championship. “He’s a home bred horse and I preserved him to the best of my ability to finish the race after it turned into a strong canter for most of the 19-kilometre final loop. He’s the world champion and watch out for him when he comes out next,” Shaikh Mohammed told the gathering after receiving the award.

Nikolay Melbard of Kazakhstan was earlier disqualified for a different reason after completing the race in ninth on nine-year-old stallion Blesk, promoting Shaikh Rashid bin Mohammed to eighth and Shaikh Salman bin Saqer Al Khalifa of Bahrain to ninth, Australian Peter Toft to 10th and another UAE rider Ali Mohammed Al Muhairi to 11th in the final standings.

The 10th edition of the world’s premier race saw 61 riders complete the 160-kilometre race from a field of 175.

Lissarague completed the course in a record seven hours and four minutes and the last to come in was Canadian Daphne Richard astride her 18-year-old Arabian gelding Cuchulain.

She completed the trip in 12 hours 49 minutes and 24 seconds and helped Canada finish fourth in the team championship behind Italy, Australia and Belgium, the only nations to finish with the Shaikh Hazza bin Sultan’s disqualification brought a bizarre ending to the championship that produced a spectacular finish here at the Dubai International Endurance City on Thursday.

Saturday’s gala award’s ceremony enthralled the visitors to one of those Arabian Night themes interspersed with lively music and fireworks that lit the desert skies before the presentation of awards.

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