About Dog Racing: Drugs

Greyhound Drug Positives

Racing greyhounds have repeatedly tested positive for serious drugs. From January 2014 to May 2017, GREY2K USA has documented over 200 violations in all seven racing states, including drug positive tests for cocaine, ractopamine, anabolic steroid metandienone, and industrial solvent dimethyl sulfoxide.

The Association of Racing Commissioners International classifies cocaine as a Class I drug, the highest prohibited category. Nonetheless, since 2008, cocaine has been found in racing dogs at least sixty-nine times in Alabama, Arkansas, and Florida.

Cocaine positives have also been documented internationally. In December 2016, a greyhound tested positive for cocaine at The Gardens Greyhound and Sporting Complex in New South Wales, Australia. In August 2010, a greyhound tested positive for cocaine after a race at Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium in England.

At least some dogs that test positive for cocaine may be exposed to the drug through human transference. Positive test results often involve small amounts of cocaine. There are also multiple state disciplinary rulings against trainers for testing positive for cocaine themselves. In August 2016, three trainers at Southland Park were tested for drugs, and two tested positive for cocaine and were fined $1,000 each. In 2012, an assistant greyhound trainer at Tucson Greyhound Park in Arizona was fined $300 and suspended for sixty days after testing positive for cocaine and marijuana.

In addition to cocaine positives, numerous other drug related violations have been documented at greyhound racing tracks. Dogs have tested positive for other prohibited substances and state investigators have discovered injectable vials, needles and medicines without proper documentation.

Female greyhounds are routinely given anabolic steroids

Female greyhounds are routinely given anabolic steroids to disrupt estrus. Estrus is the natural "heat" cycle for females.

This common industry practice serves to prevent the loss of race days for female greyhounds. According to the industry handbook Care of the Racing & Retired Greyhound, trainers "should note that the full estrus cycle … from start to finish lasts 15 weeks … and, of this time, the bitch can race or trial only for the second 3-week stage."1 To avoid this down time, the use of steroids in female greyhounds has become ubiquitous.

Greyhounds can also be given anabolic steroids to enhance performance. According to Dr. Richard Sams of the University of Florida Racing Laboratory, anabolic steroids such as Stanozolol would be "excellent" for enhancing performance.

Anabolic steroids are harmful to greyhounds

According to the American Greyhound Council's handbook Care of the Racing & Retired Greyhound, anabolic steroids can cause serious side effects. These include:

  • Increased aggression which can result in fighting during trialing and racing;
  • Increased weight due to water retention;
  • Occasional loss of vigor;
  • Virilization.

However, nowhere in the book do the authors recommend halting the medication. On the contrary, they state, "If the bitch has an adverse reaction to either [steroid] … then one should change to the opposite form of medication."

US tracks and trainers repeatedly ignore steroid bans and restrictions

Industry participants have repeatedly avoided or ignored steroid bans and restrictions:

  • In December 2013, an Alabama greyhound trainer was fined for possession of drug paraphernalia. One of the confiscated medications was testosterone.

  • In August 2013, Florida greyhound trainer James O'Donnell was found in possession of steroid paraphernalia. He later admitted that "[w]e've been using [testosterone] for years and years."

  • In 2008, South Tucson voters passed the Tucson Dog Protection Act. This measure in part prohibited the dosing of female greyhounds with anabolic steroids. To comply, the track veterinarian simply transported the dogs into Tucson, a separate incorporated municipality, and continued the practice of administering anabolic steroids.

Steroid use in racing greyhounds has been prohibited or restricted in other countries

Anabolic steroid use – and in many cases specifically testosterone – has come under fire in other countries. In 2010, the Anti-Doping and Medication Control Review Board evaluated Great Britain's medication and drug policies for racing greyhounds. On the use of testosterone to suppress a bitch's "heat," the Board wrote, "We can see no justification, on ethical or welfare grounds, for the use of an androgenic ('masculinising') drug in a racing bitch and urge that the use of testosterone be prohibited as soon as possible."

Greyhounds Australasia, which makes racing rules and recommendations to Australian states and territories, as well as New Zealand, considers testosterone "a 'prohibited substance' as defined by the National Racing rules" and allows only a threshold of "10 nanograms per milliliter in a sample of urine" for naturally occurring versions of it.

Taking this ban one step further, the New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association has prohibited "[a]ll forms of steroids" and established penalties for greyhound test positives which include a one-year disqualification and/or fine of $6,000.

The Greyhound Board of Great Britain no longer includes testosterone on its "List of Permitted Treatments."

 

 

 

 

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