Mumbai police find evidence of alleged horseracing doping conspiracy

Published 23 August 2014 | Authored by: Manali Kulkarni
In December 2013 trainer Pesi Shroff’s1 ward, Bullseye, was banned after testing positive for the steroid, Boldenone. Shortly after, in February 2014, Shroff filed a police report to Tardeo police station (Mumbai), arguing that these test results were part of a conspiracy. The Tardeo police transferred his case to the Mumbai police crime branch.2

While the police investigation was underway, the steward’s body of the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC)3  issued a nine-month ban against Shroff, effective March 29, 2014 to December 31, 2014, for being vicariously liable for the incident as the horse’s trainer.4

In March 2014, Shroff appealed his ban5 to the RWITC’s Board of Appeal (BoA), maintaining his innocence and continuing to allege that he has been conspired against.6

The RWITC appointed theAnimal Welfare Board of India (AWBI)7 to investigate the matter.   The AWBI finalised its report in May 2014 and its findings are to be considered as fresh evidence. 8 The Board of Appeal then referred this case back to the stewards’ body, who initially imposed this ban.9

Under Article 43 and 44 of the Rules of Racing, the stewards’ body can hear any case referred to them from the BoA on a de novo basis (i.e. afresh) and, if satisfied with the new evidence, can re-open any aspect of the case.10 Shroff now awaits a decision regarding his nine-month ban.

As of August 2014, the results from the four-month long investigation conducted by the Mumbai crime branch11 on Shroff’s initial police report concluded that there are may be valid grounds for Shroff’s conspiracy allegations.12

The Mumbai crime branch’s findings resulted in four employees of a Maval-based stud farm, where Shroff trained Bullseye, being arrested on August 8, 2014.13

In addition, Shroff’s main competition, experienced trainer, Kawasji “Cooji” Katrak, was also questioned twice. The Mumbai crime branch’s statements to date hint that Katrak may have known details about the possible conspiracy.14

It appears that the Mumbai crime branch has phone conversations in their possession hinting at a planned conspiracy. One of the conversations involves a RWITC official, discussing plans to contact the four employees who were arrested, hoping that they would provide affidavits confirming the doping charge to the RWITC, and supposedly framing Shroff as guilty.15

The investigations relating to Shroff’s police report and decisions on his appeal are still underway.

Shroff is a known name in Indian turf racing, training the most horses and being one of the highest paid trainers on the circuit.16 As a rider, he also won the Indian Derby 8 times and the Indian Turf Invitation 7 times.17

Last week, the RWITC stated that it plans to revisit the vicarious liability rule under which Shroff was initially banned. There are no further details on potential amendments to the regulations.18

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About the Author

Manali Kulkarni

Manali Kulkarni

Manali is the COO at LawInSport and executive contributor of the editorial board for LawInSport. She holds an LLM in Sports Law from Nottingham Law School (Nottingham Trent University).

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