GWIC Introduce Blood And Hair Follicle Testing

THE Greyhound Welfare & Integrity Commission will roll out regular blood and hair follicle testing as it ramps up its evolving Prohibited Substance Detection Program.

Adam Dobbin

22 May 2019

THE Greyhound Welfare & Integrity Commission will roll out regular blood and hair follicle testing as it ramps up its evolving Prohibited Substance Detection Program.

In addition to the standard urine swabbing procedures already in place throughout NSW, GWIC Chief Veterinary Officer Michelle Ledger told the Recorder that the increased focus on blood and hair follicle testing will only strengthen the commission’s multi-dimensional drug detection strategy.

“The Commission recently introduced out of competition blood and urine testing for the Golden Easter Egg series which proved very successful with all samples returning a negative result for permanently banned substances,” Dr. Ledger said.

“While the testing of blood and hair samples is not foreign to the industry, it will soon become more common within the Commission’s enhanced Prohibited Substance Detection Program.”

With blood and hair follicle testing now common place in thoroughbred and harness racing, Ledger went on to say that it’s the commission’s belief that the new strategies will go a long way to even further bolstering industry confidence.

“The increased focus on collecting blood and urine samples both in and out of competition will only strengthen both industry and public confidence in the industry,” added Dr. Ledger.

“Our comprehensive program focuses on safeguarding the integrity of race meetings with pre and post race urine sample testing, and additional post-race blood testing when appropriate.”

With technological advancements increasing by the day, the new measures will serve to more thoroughly detect for permanently banned substances including stimulants, growth hormones, peptide hormones, anabolic steroids and other illicit substances.

“Urine samples are common practice and can be used to detect the majority of prohibited substances, but as technology continues to evolve, blood and hair samples will be more commonly obtained to allow for thorough testing of all permanently banned prohibited substances,” added Dr. Ledger.

“Blood, urine and hair testing will also ensure the out of competition environment is equally protected also.”

In announcing the roll-out of the new swabbing strategies, Commission CEO Judy Lind, a former senior executive of ASADA, said that trainers will be kept up to date through the participant ‘threshold’ notification strategy.

“These initiatives will go a long way to even further strengthening the integrity of racing and the welfare of our racing greyhounds which is of the upmost importance,” said Lind.

“We will work collaboratively with participants to ensure that everyone is on the same page.”

In 2017/18, Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) conducted 7,618 urine swabs, with 0.87% returning positive, the best figures since 2012.

Industry spend on drug detection in 2018 was $1.55 million, down from almost $1.7 million in 2017.

“The Commission’s multi-dimensional strategy aims to deter the small minority of people who deliberately attempt to influence the outcome of a race by using prohibited substances,” Dr. Ledger added.