Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Questions (183)

Maureen O'Sullivan


183. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the fact that a greyhound that tested positive for cocaine on three occasions has been nominated for the greyhound of the year award; his further views on whether doping is a significant problem in the industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18184/18]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Bord na gCon is a commercial State Body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958, chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry.

Bord na gCon is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Bord na gCon has informed me that all nominations for the annual awards are decided on by an independent panel comprising of ten industry representatives. The selection for each category is made by secret ballot with the three top voted greyhounds being selected for consideration.

Bord na gCon has an intensive testing regime in place across race meetings, sales trials and at owners' kennels. For the first quarter of 2018, there have been two adverse analytical findings from 1,095 samples. From a total of 5,294 samples in 2017, there were 29 adverse findings. Every adverse finding is published on the Bord na gCon website.

In 2017 Bord na gCon invested €400,000 in a new analytical machine that can measure substances in parts per trillion, which allows for detection sometime after they may have been administered. Three individuals have been banned for doping or welfare offences. These individuals are disqualified from owning, training or managing a racing greyhound.

In relation to the matter referred to in the Deputy's question, Bord na gCon has stated that in accordance with regulations, the subsequent investigation into the three adverse analytical findings is a matter for the Control Committee which is independent of Bord na gCon. This investigation was due for hearing by the Control Committee in December 2017 but is currently on hold due to a High Court injunction. Until the Control Committee has concluded its investigation, the prize money is withheld and no assumptions can be made beyond the status of an adverse analytical finding. In accordance with regulations, any greyhound that returns an adverse finding is immediately disqualified from further racing or trialling until a further sample returns free from prohibited substances.