When it comes to the sport of greyhound racing, there are only two sure-fired methods a trainer can use to get a dog around the track faster than any of the others.
The first is put the pup through a rigorous training program, matched with a high protein, low fat diet that almost ensures the competition comes off the line looking like a pack of garbage-fed mutts. The other is to simply feed the four-legged beast copious amounts of cocaine and hope like hell its heart doesn’t explode before it reaches the finish line.
Unfortunately, a recent report from the Tampa Bay Times indicates that some of Florida’s longtime greyhound trainers have opted for the latter instead of leaning on old-fashioned diet and exercise.
At least one trainer, a man by the name of Malcolm McAllister, has had his license revoked this year after racing officials discovered that as many as five of his dogs were blasted out of their minds on go-go powder when they hit the track.
However, McAllister, a 40-year veteran of the greyhound circuit, denies any responsibility for the coked up canines. He suggests that a new trainer—someone who has since been terminated from his organization—may have been the culprit.
“One of these undesirables had to have either dropped or administered the cocaine,” he said. “It was not me.”
The use of drugs in the world of greyhound racing is not uncommon.
Some of the latest statistics show there have been at least 75 documented incidents over the last few years where a dog was found with cocaine or some other kind of performance enhancement drug in their system.
In some of these cases, the trainer responsible received only a small fine, while others managed to escape the charges completely.
That’s because most of the drugged dogs only test positive for small amounts of cocaine, which makes it difficult for the racing association to prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they were administered the drug as a means for gaining an advantage on the track.
It is sometimes possible for greyhounds to come into contact with the drug through their human handlers.
And in most cases, illegal drug use is not grounds for total banishment from the racing scene. Trainers who test positive for cocaine are often fined and temporarily suspended.
Carey Theil, executive director of GREY2K USA, a nonprofit looking out for the well-being of greyhounds, told the Associated Press that none of these cases are ever investigated to determine exactly how cocaine got into a dog’s system. He says everyone in the industry understands that it only happens for one of two reasons.
Either it is “an outright attempt to fix races, or the individuals who are caring for the dogs are using cocaine and the dogs came in contact with it in some way,” Theil said, adding that he doesn’t know which is worse.
There are more than 80,000 greyhounds being used in the dog racing industry, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Yet this form of gaming is only permitted in six states.