Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) recently announced the results of a world-first, industry leading study into the analytical methods used to detect testosterone administration – or doping – in male greyhounds.
The study is the first of its kind in any greyhound racing jurisdiction in the world and takes the detection and accuracy of testing procedures to unprecedented levels and follows the introduction of a threshold in 2013 to regulate testosterone use in female greyhounds following an extensive study.
GRV’s General Manager of Integrity, Racing and Welfare, Glen Canty said this is a significant breakthrough for integrity in greyhound racing.
“Animal welfare and integrity of racing is at the heart of every decision we make and this study was undertaken with those important values in mind.
“The results of this study mean our testing procedures are world class. It gives those that compete in, and wager on, greyhound racing tremendous confidence that GRV is extremely well placed to detect the administration of testosterone,” Mr. Canty said.
This project has been aimed at addressing industry concern that doping of greyhounds with testosterone may occur and that such doping practices are difficult to identify in male greyhounds because of the natural presence of the hormone at greatly varied levels.
Commissioned by the GRV Board in March 2013, the research was jointly conducted by the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences (FVAS) at the University of Melbourne (UM) and Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL). The study saw male greyhounds administered particular registered testosterone containing compounds. At regular intervals blood, urine and hair samples of those greyhounds were collected for detailed analysis. Importantly, the compounds and collection process was approved by the University animal ethics committee and were not harmful to the greyhounds in any way.
Professor Ted Whittem, Associate Dean – Clinical Programs at FVAS at the University of Melbourne – said, “We are proud to have been chosen by GRV to conduct this study in collaboration with RASL. We set out and succeeded to develop a non-invasive testing procedure so that dogs can be sampled without any negative welfare impact.
“The procedure allows the unequivocal determination that greyhounds have been dosed with testosterone and will provide significant benefit to the greyhound racing industry,” Professor Whittem said.
The study developed a revolutionary analytical procedure which means testosterone compounds can now be detected in greyhound hair for several months post administration and provides unequivocal confirmation of the administration of testosterone to any greyhound, either male or female.
It is now possible to differentiate between testosterone that is naturally occurring in a male greyhound and that which has been administered with the intent to improve the performance of the greyhound.
The successful development of these capabilities greatly strengthens GRV’s ability to provide a racing product of the highest integrity giving participants and punters confidence in the fairness of greyhound racing in Victoria.
RASL Laboratory Director, David Batty said “RASL is delighted to join forces with GRV and the University of Melbourne to develop a solution to this most difficult issue. With the aid of equipment and research funds from GRV, RASL had the necessary tools to develop sophisticated testing methods for the detection of testosterone esters in greyhound hair.
“The addition of these tests to our armoury of routine screening procedures should provide confidence to industry participants that all racing greyhounds are competing on a level playing field,” Mr. Batty said.
Urinary markers for testosterone doping will still be closely monitored and participants are warned that testosterone use close to racing in any greyhound could lead to a breach of the rules.
Testing using this analytical procedure will commence later this year after the necessary rule amendments and testing protocols are established. More detailed communication to the industry will occur in the lead-up to the commencement of the new testing procedure.
More detailed communication to the industry will occur in the lead-up to the commencement of the new testing procedure.