69 greyhounds test positive for banned substances

THE Irish Greyhound Board's annual doping report reveals 6,113 samples were taken from greyhounds during 2005 - with 69 testing positive for banned substances.

But the report makes no mention of two dogs that tested positive for performance enhancing drug erythropoietin, known as EPO.

Of the positive tests, seven were for amphetamine, which is commonly known as the party drug speed.

The tests also showed 17 samples revealed caffeine while three were for chlorpromazine, which is used in humans to treat nausea and psychosis.

Of the samples, 33 revealed the dogs had been on medication like painkillers while the remainder of the tests showed a range of other substances.

The report, which was released this week by the board's control committee, revealed an 18% increase in the number of tests carried out compared to 2004.

But the number of positive samples fell from 1.8% in 2004 to 1.13% the following year, the report said.

The Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) named and shamed five owners and trainers for breaches of the rules in regard to sampling. It imposed €16,800 of fines in total and ordered the forfeiture of €17,072 in prize money.

Board chairman Paschal Taggart defended the IGB's decision not to disclose details of samples where EPO was found.

Mr Taggart told RTÉ: "We have dealt with it in terms of their licence and in terms of fines so we thought that was a very reasonable way to deal with it.

"We at the time did not consider it a cover-up; we considered it a very reasonable way to deal with it.

"No greyhound has been found positive for EPO since."

He said the country had the most sophisticated drug testing equipment for greyhounds, ensuring the sport was clean.

The committee published the report in racing publications so the public, punters and greyhound enthusiasts could see the steps taken to safeguard the sport, he said.

"It's as clean a betting sport as any. The big punters, by their very nature, would not be putting on a lot of money if they thought it was bent.

"It is a very clean sport and it has got very popular.

"I would say it is one of the cleanest forms of betting there is."

The 6,113 tests were carried out at the 17 dogtracks licensed by the board. The highest number of samples was taken at Shelbourne Park where eight proved positive from 728 taken.

The course where the highest number of positive samples were taken was Lifford, where 12 of 384 tests revealed banned substances.

No dogs were found with positive samples at Longford, Mullingar, Thurles, and Youghal.

Board bosses said the reduction in the number of positive samples in 2005 was significant and welcome.

Five cases highlighted by board

By Paul Kelly

OF the cases arising from the 69 positive samples, Irish Greyhound Board bosses highlighted five:

1) Michael Cahalane, a trainer of Ballinascarthy, Co Cork, was fined €1,200 after a sample obtained from the greyhound White Snowball turned out to be human urine.

The dog had finished fifth in a race at Curraheen Park but its "sample" contained Ritalin, which is used in children to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and naturally-occurring human EPO.

2) Trainer Matthew Ryan of Cashel, Co Tipperary, was fined €2,000 and issued with a final warning following a race at Thurles.

A clean sample purporting to come from the greyhound Very Tight had come from another dog, the board found.

3) Dog owner John Sheehy of Emly, Co Tipperary, was fined €500 and cautioned severely after the greyhound Your Guest was found to have amphetamine (known as speed) in its system after a race at Limerick.

4) John Grace of Shannon, Co Clare, was fined €500 and cautioned severely after the dog Dole Day was found to have amphetamine in its system following a race in Galway.

5) Owner Joe Shoer of Claddagh, Co Galway, left Galway Greyhound Stadium with winning greyhound Blister Darcy without providing a sample from the dog. He was fined €500, ordered to forfeit the €200 prize money the dog had won and was cautioned severely.

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