I know I said I’d leave the UAE + racing = steroids topic alone for a while, but I did qualify my promise with the caveat that if something monumental were to happen I’d be breaking it. The announcement on Thursday that Sheikh Mohammed has declared steroids illegal in his homeland is, to me, promise break-worthy. Imagine if we lived in a country like that. Obama wakes up one day and suddenly declares guns illegal in the US, GOP and Congress be-damned. If he were the constitutional monarch of the US and not a democratically elected president, he could just do that. And that’s the kind of thing Sheikh Mohammed is apparently empowered to do. He is the ruler of Dubai, and what else do rulers do but make up rules?
I wonder if they’ll impose the death penalty.
See, according to my favourite t00-lazy-to-get-up-from-the-computer source Wikipedia, the UAE still has the death penalty (shooting squad only!) for such sundry offences as murder, homosexuality, serious rape (as opposed to casual rape I suppose) and terrorism. Oh, and drug trafficking. That would potentially mean the ultimate price to be paid by those who juice horses and get caught. Funny thing is, the Sheikh himself is by far the most incriminated citizen of the UAE in this regard, owning the Lion King’s share of race horses in England and endurance horses in the UAE that have tested positive for steroids. Here’s a ‘tree falling in the woods’ kind of philosophical question for you: if the ruler of Dubai is caught breaking his own rule, who punishes him?
I found an article in GulfNews.com, which is published in the UAE, that (of course) applauds the Good Sheikh’s latest effort at showing the world he’s taking drugs seriously and not putting up with them for one more minute (sound of foot stomping). The story, written by a reporter with the surprisingly anglo and gender neutral name Leslie Wilson, makes a few curious arguments, such as this one: the UAE has always had a high level of intolerance for steroids in race horses. I guess by ‘racing’ they would be specifically excluding ‘endurance racing’. The article goes on to state that while steroids are no problem at all for the UAE it’s really more of a ‘global problem’ (so why the need for a law banning them, hm?). Countries like Australia, for example, have ‘more tolerance’ for steroids, ‘while the American’s think it’s OK to race with lasix’. Never mind that lasix isn’t a steroid. The article then quotes someone or other as saying that the new rule will leave ‘no place to hide’ for those who violate the Sheikh’s new, sweeping decree. Except maybe a certain palace…
In other, closely related Royal news, the British and Commonwealth media are all atwitter with the release of a documentary about how horses make the Queen ‘feel human’ (their quotes, not mine – which suggests she is something other than). The Daily Mail published a bunch of photos in their near-orgasmic story – including some Queen-as-babushka shots, as well as pics of her astride a steed or casting a critical but appreciative eye over some fine young Thoroughbred horse flesh. Is it a coincidence that a documentary trumpeting the Queen’s love for horse racing should come out so soon after British racing has been dealt the biggest black eye in its history?
To say there is one degree of separation between the British and the middle east when it comes to fast running horses is an exaggeration of 3/4 of a degree. The overlap is massive: from Middle East-funded endurance races on the Queen’s lawn to the dependence of much of British racing, the ‘passion of the Queen’, on the enormous investments of Sheikh Mohammed. I wonder when the Queen will decree that steroids are illegal in the UK? After all, she’s a ruler too.