Posted on: March 25, 2022, 08:06h.
Last updated on: March 25, 2022, 08:06h.
A total of 26 individuals with connections to the French horse racing industry have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in a widescale doping ring.
Coordinated police raids conducted across France on Tuesday resulted in the detention of 21 trainers, owners, vets and pharmacists, prosecutors said.
Two other individuals were arrested in Spain and Italy on the same day, and two more in France on Wednesday, French media reported.
On Thursday, the Bordeaux public prosecutor charged three people with equine, doping, organized crime fraud, and participation in a criminal association,
They include owner and trainer Luc Gabeur and his son Baudouin Gabeur. The offenses carry sentences of up to ten years in prison. More charges and arrests are anticipated.
We are trying to establish the roles of one to another, their relationships and their level of responsibility,” Stephane Piallate, the head of the central service of racing and gaming, told the Jour de Galop.
“Some people have been revealed to probably have a more important role than we thought at the start, serving as some sort of regional relays distributing these doping products,” she added. “We are at the heart of an important process of identifying and verifying the elements of proof. Working in connection with the expertise of horse racing laboratories, we are waiting for the results of the analyses.”
The latest scandal comes just months after the arrests of several members of one of France’s most prestigious racehorse-training families on suspicion of doping and fraud. In December 2021, police arrested Cédric Rossi, his uncle, Fréderic Rossi, and brother, Charley Rossi.
The family has been at the forefront of French racing for three generations. Its stable star, Sealiway, won the Group 1 Champion Stakes at Ascot in October 2021, earning the family £714,500 (US$943,000).
But recent successes, coupled with deaths of their horses on the racetrack and during training, aroused suspicion in racing circles, according to Le Monde.
French racing regulator France Galop has called the fight against doping an “absolute priority” for the racing industry, which diverts €10 million (US$11.3 million) a year into preventative measures.
These include the administration of 30,000 doping tests a year on horses before races, in training, and at stud farms, many unannounced.
Of this week’s arrests, France Galop told the Associated Press in a statement it was paying the “greatest attention to the ongoing investigations” and was providing ongoing assistance to law enforcement.