Perception that trainers use drugs on dogs ruins industry image

Trainers found guilty of doping dogs had ‘no place in the industry’ – trainer Paul Hennessy

One of the country’s top trainers, Paul Hennessy, believes the Irish Greyhound Board is making progress in stamping out doping. Photograph:  Getty

One of the country’s top trainers, Paul Hennessy, believes the Irish Greyhound Board is making progress in stamping out doping. Photograph: Getty

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Ireland’s greyhound industry’s image has been ruined by the perception that trainers have used drugs on their dogs, one of the country’s top trainers, Paul Hennessy, has claimed ahead of Saturday’s €300,000 Irish Derby.

Mr Hennessy, from Gowran, Co Kilkenny, who runs Jaytee Taylor in the prestige Shelbourne Park race, pleaded guilty in 2007 at Kilkenny District Court to possessing unauthorised animal remedies.

Mr Hennessy insisted he had not then known the substances , which it was argued could have enhanced a dog’s performance, were not authorised by the Irish Medicines Board.

Saying he had held “up my hands”, the trainer insisted the products had been safe. “They were bloody useless, too. They were multi-vitamins and stuff, there was no drugs involved.”

Trainers found guilty of doping dogs had “no place in the industry”, said Mr Hennessy. “There is no honour in it,” he said, adding he believed the Irish Greyhound Board was making progress in stamping out doping.

On Saturday night, his dog will run against Clonbrien Hero, a Limerick-owned dog trained at Graham Holland’s Riverside Kennels in Cashel, which allegedly tested positive for cocaine on three separate occasions last year.

Judicial review

Clonbrien Hero has been cleared to race in the Derby. However, the dog’s €30,000 first prize winnings in last year’s Laurels has been frozen pending the outcome of judicial review proceedings.

These have been taken by Mr Holland, who is challenging an Irish Greyhound Board inquiry into the alleged positive tests. A ruling on the application is expected next month.

The board said regulations had been followed in Clonbrien Hero’s case.

Judicial review proceedings taken by Mr Holland in November 2017 “has so far prevented the independent Control Committee from hearing this case in accordance with the statutory regulations”, said the racing body.

The board said 2,665 samples were analysed by the National Greyhound Laboratory between January and June. “Just 10 of these – 0.37 per cent – were found to be adverse,” said a spokesman.

However, Una Jensen of the Greyhound Rescue Association Ireland said dogs were drugged “to lose just as often as drugging them to win”, so that they qualify for easier races. The board was “turning a blind eye” to the problem, she said.

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