London - British racing's governing body on Thursday banned trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni for eight years for his role in a doping scandal that has rocked the sport.
Al Zarooni, 37, was given the punishment after a disciplinary hearing, at the BHA headquarters in London, revealed 11 of the horses he trained for Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin stable had tested positive for anabolic steroids.
"Mahmood Al Zarooni has been disqualified for eight years following today's Disciplinary Panel hearing," a BHA statement on Twitter read.
Samples were taken earlier this month from 45 horses trained by Al Zarooni and subsequent analysis showed 11 of the samples contained ethylestranol and stanozolol, which are prohibited substances.
The 37-year-old, who was charged on Wednesday with breaching rules "related to prohibited substances, duty to keep medication records, and conduct prejudicial to racing", arrived at the hearing to a crowd of photographers and television cameras but said nothing to waiting reporters.
However, in a written statement after the verdict Al Zarooni apologised for his actions.
"First and foremost, I would like to apologise to his Highness, Sheikh Mohammed, as well as all those involved in Godolphin and the public," he said.
"I accept it was my responsibility to be aware of the rules regarding prohibited substances in Britain.
"I can only apologise. I have made a catastrophic error."
Sheikh Mohammed reacted to what has been described as racing's biggest doping scandal in recent years by shutting the stables and ordering a full-scale internal investigation.
The sheikh, one of racing's leading figures and the ruler of Dubai, said he was "appalled and angered" by the revelations.
Simon Crisford, speaking on behalf of Godolphin, described it as a terrible day for British racing.
"This is a terrible situation. It's an awful situation that Godolphin has found themselves in," Crisford said.
"Mr Al Zarooni acted with awful recklessness and caused tremendous damage, not only to Godolphin and British racing.
"I think it will take a very long time for Godolphin to regain the trust of the British public.
"We're shocked and completely outraged by the actions he has taken."
Crisford also confirmed Al Zarooni had mentioned the names of three other people - two foremen and a veterinary assistant - who were "involved".
However, he said the assistant had not broken any rules because he was unaware what substance he was administering.
The BHA said Al Zarooni had told investigators that a further four horses that were not tested were also given the banned substances.
Earlier on Thursday, the BHA handed six-month bans to 15 horses owned and trained by the Godolphin stable.
The bans were backdated to April 9 -- the day they were first tested at Godolphin's Newmarket stables in eastern England.