Judge’s ruling eviscerates state’s greyhound drug-testing system
Photo: Van Abernethy

Florida trip Feb, 2015 779e

An administrative law judge on Monday largely gutted the state’s proposed rule governing the drug testing of racing greyhounds.

In a 44-page “final order,” Administrative Law Judge E. Gary Early struck down specific provisions of the state regulation on how greyhounds are chosen for testing on race days, and how samples are stored and at what temperature. In Florida, live dog racing is still conducted at 11 tracks.

Early also criticized the lack of a ‘chain of custody‘ standard: The rule “provides no procedure for handling, storing, or shipping (urine specimens), and no chain of custody procedure, other than delivery to the (state’s) contract laboratory,” he wrote.

“The lack of any procedures … constitutes a failure to establish adequate standards for agency decisions, and vests unbridled discretion in the agency,” he added.

For instance, the state requires using “evidence tape” to seal samples and to store them in “lockable freezers” until they’re sent off for testing. But Early said the rule was “irrational” because it doesn’t actually require the freezers to be locked.

It’s now up to state gambling regulators whether the struck-down components are “integral enough to the testing program that any specimen collected under the rule would need to be dismissed,” said one industry lawyer, who asked not to be named.

A request for comment to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), which regulates dog racing and other gambling through its Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, is pending.

The challenge to the rule was filed by the Palm Beach Greyhound Kennel Association, which does business as Palm Beach Kennel Club.

The track — which offers greyhound racing, poker and table games — is represented by the Slusher & Rosenblum law firm in West Palm Beach. Attorneys there did not respond to a message by the close of business on Monday.

Jack Cory, spokesman and lobbyist for the Florida Greyhound Association, which represents the state’s owners and breeders, said the group’s members have a “zero tolerance for the use of any improper drugs.”

“According to the University of Florida Testing Lab, over 440,000 greyhounds tested negative for any drugs over the last 10 years,” he said in a statement. “Live greyhound racing is the cleanest sport in America — human or animal … This should be a wake up call for DBPR to sit down with the industry and come up with reasonable and enforceable rules.”

Gambling regulators last month renewed the emergency rule that allows them to continue testing racing greyhounds for drugs, including cocaine. Another administrative law judge also struck down the state’s prior testing regimen, saying it was invalid.

Lawrence P. Stevenson had barred the state from relying on a 2010 testing manual because it wasn’t properly adopted, though as one of the division’s lawyers said, “There aren’t that many ways to do urine collection.”

A cocaine-in-dogs controversy came to light in Jacksonville in the summer of 2017. That in part spurred a constitutional amendment for the 2018 ballot to ban betting on greyhound racing in the state.

The Protect Dogs-Yes on 13 campaign, which advocates for passage of Amendment 13, said it’s “the second time in a year that the greyhound drug program has come under assault by lawyers for the greyhound industry.

“This ruling throws two pending greyhound cocaine cases into doubt. Two greyhound trainers are currently facing administrative charges after dogs in their control tested positive for cocaine earlier this year at Daytona Beach Kennel Club,” the statement said. “And Florida greyhounds have tested positive for cocaine 73 times since 2007.”


Main photo: Van Abernethy.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • steve grabarczyk

    October 1, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    LOL the Protect Dogs campaign knows full well that all those positive tests were a farce in the modern day scientific procedures for drug screening humans and other animals. 99% of the positives were under 50ng/ml and under the 100 ng/ml that Dr. Cole pointed out was not significant to affect a dog or race. An airline Pilot is allowed up to 150 ng/ml and so are race horses in some jurisdictions, others 75 ng/ml. All this ruling does is reinforce the FACT that the DBPR procedures are antiquated and improper and are ripe for abuse as we saw under the reign of Tony Glover where a sample was actually tampered with, and then he bailed to lobby for Grey2k. Too bad the LIE that you have been perpetrating about the joke coke positives is falling apart like the the rest of the PD13 house of cards. You can’t keep lying and getting away with it. We will keep making sure of that, and that the voters of Florida see you for the charlatans you really are.

  • Steve

    October 1, 2018 at 6:36 pm

    Grey2K and the proponents to end dog racing continue to cite these numbers in their reports to lawmakers, and Floridians as convicted drug positives. The fact of the matter is multiple judges, with ALL the evidence have deemed those tests invalid. Grey2K knows that yet still includes them in their statistics. What else are they lying to the world about. Animal Rights Extremists and Terrorist tactics is all it is.
    Pet Owner, working dog owners, horse owners, farmers, fisherman. Pay attention to what’s at stake. Amendment 13 is Pandora’s Box. VOTE NO ON 13 and more importantly tell the ANIMAL RIGHTS EXTREMIST they’re not welcome in FLORIDA or elsewhere.

  • steve grabarczyk

    October 1, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    Key takeaways which I have been saying for many months
    Stipulated Facts
    The following facts were stipulated by the parties:
    9. It is possible that a racing greyhound could become
    exposed to environmental substances during the time between the
    trainer relinquishing it at the track and the sampling.

    31. The greyhounds are all weighed in about 60 to 90
    minutes prior to the first race, regardless of the race in which
    a particular greyhound is scheduled to appear. After weigh-in,
    the greyhounds are handed over to the “lead-outs,” who are track
    employees, and taken to the ginny pit. Each greyhound is then
    placed in a numbered cage designating its race and position, and
    held there until its race is scheduled to commence. From the
    time an animal is given over to the lead-outs until its race is
    over, they are out of the control and sight of the owners and
    trainers. For greyhounds racing in the last race of a card,
    that period can be well in excess of four hours.

    36. Dr. Tobin testified that samples must be kept frozen
    or, at a minimum, refrigerated. Mr. Ehrhardt testified that
    once a sample is collected, it goes “straight to the freezer,”
    suggesting that freezing is the preferred method of storage.
    Failure to do so can result in degradation of the sample,
    bacterial growth, and, in certain cases, breakdown of substances
    into metabolites that would more closely mimic a prohibited
    substance in a dog’s urine.

    And State employees wearing no glove on one hand http://supportgreyhounds.org/catcher.jpg

  • steve grabarczyk

    October 1, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    And we all know who is going to show up here and double down on the misinformation and lies in order to dupe the Florida voters. Seem s the only time the courts are correct is when they rule on THEIR side LOL. That tells you how sorry Carey Thiel and Protect Dogs are.

  • Andy

    October 1, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    There you go Fred, more COURT evidence laying bare your LIES, the mountain keeps getting taller

    • steve grabarczyk

      October 1, 2018 at 7:48 pm

      C’MON MAN you know THEY only follow court rulings when in THEIR favor only

  • Joe T

    October 1, 2018 at 7:59 pm

    everyone knows who urine it was tested positive, Grey2ks lobbyist that use to work for the parimutuel
    division that quit after the sample came back as not canine urine, the Yes people are as crooked and sleazy as they come, nothing but liars

  • Wendi Tremblay

    October 1, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    When an independent lab finds NO CANINE DNA in the split sample, and when those taking samples fail to wear gloves, people wonder WHY those working with greyhounds are skeptical? There is good reason to be! If human samples were taken this way there would be a big outcry, so there is no reason it should be tolerated with greyhounds. Those I know in this industry know and love these hounds, and care for them well.

  • Craig Laginess

    October 2, 2018 at 5:25 am

    Nothing but crickets from Grey2k….

    • Andy

      October 2, 2018 at 9:03 am

      Of course, they will act like the court decision doesn’t exist and keep pushing the cocaine lie, obvious why they are afraid to debate

  • Dick Ciampa

    October 2, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Even the name of the yes committee is a lie. If they are protecting dogs and you are having a problem with your pit bull you should contact them. They are the great protectors of DOGS and I’m sure they will help you.

    Or did they lie about their name?

    Lying is what they do best and it all starts with their name.

    The VOTE NO on 13 committee is named the Committee to Support Greyhounds. Pretty plain to see the VOTE NO on 13 committee is talking about greyhounds.

  • Jeff White

    October 2, 2018 at 11:25 am

    The fact that the state’s regulation of greyhound racing has yet again been demonstrated to be utterly incompetent and ineffectual is yet another reason why this industry must be shut down. Vote YES on 13!

    • Andy

      October 2, 2018 at 11:45 am

      Hello whacko lunatic fringe zealot, The DPBR was headed by your crooked lawyer Glover at this time, I would agree he is incompetent. Did you google what I said google to see you are in bed with rackateers and terrorists?

      Hate to say, you’re going to lose

  • Andy

    October 2, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    October 15, 2008, Rev Dominic Martin ” I am continually shocked by the behavior of organizations like Grey2k,” Obfuscation, distortion, lies and slander, defamation and libel are all part of the standard operating procedure it seems”

    There you are proven liar Freddy, isn’t just ” my view”, is the view of many, including religious leaders, what incredible frauds you are.

  • Lil Stevie Grabmaczyk

    October 3, 2018 at 9:32 am

    When the child molestation scandal broke within the Catholic church, my first thought was, “What are they complaining about? It’s just a small percentage of kids getting raped and abused. Look to all the souls being saved overall. That’s the real story.”

    When the last school shooting took place, everything considered, I pondered, “What are they complaining about? 99.9% of all kids go through school, graduate, and do great things with their lives. It’s just a tiny percentage of kids getting shot through the skull and chest with guns and weapons and bleeding out on school property. Don’t look at the bodies of the dead. Instead, gaze upon the graduates. That’s the real story.”

    When the most recent scandal broke in the greyhound industry, I thought, “What are they talking about? These cocaine cases, broken backs and necks, broken legs and the rest of them are few and far between. Even though every dog has got to live in a tiny wire box for most of their racing “career,” it’s only a very small percentage that get electrocuted when they go to work or test positive for a drug harmful to their health. What’s the big deal? 99.9% of the dogs get out unscathed. Don’t think too hard about a broken leg which healed up just fine in my humble opinion or the broken back which was an unfortunate accident. And really don’t think too hard that people are gambling upon the outcome, when the outcome is occasionally a dead dog on the track which has to be carried out, the video footage of which has to be deleted. Look instead to the dog who now sleeps on a couch. Surely that justifies the whole thing.”

    • Craig Laginess

      October 3, 2018 at 9:57 am

      70 cocaine positives over a 10 year period = 7 per year out of thousands of tests each year. Injuries happen, a kid playing baseball has a higher risk of injury than a greyhound. How many deaths are race related??? Most of the deaths reported aren’t race related as a percentage of the whole a greyhound has less than one thousandth of a percent of a race related death and less than one percent chance of missing their next start due to injury. Go back to your “safe place” now that I beat you up with the whole picture. #votenoon13

    • Andy

      October 3, 2018 at 7:36 pm

      The fact will never change that on your side is 1. A group with a proven liar as president 2. A group with a proven liar as secretary 3. A group implicated in blackmail. 4. A group fined $15000000 for paying a witness to lie 5, A side that has run at the debate challenge.

      The lot of you are fraudsters of the highest order, the dogs LOVE racing, that cannot be disputed, once we win in November, once again good wins out over evil. No rackateers or terrorists on our side. If your side are not lying cowards, then come out from behind your keyboards and DEBATE, cowards

Comments are closed.


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