Leading vet & lab chief explain how EPO swabs can be missed

DAVID Battie, head of Racing Analytical Services Ltd (RASL), has confirmed that all swabs taken from greyhounds examined by his laboratory are tested for Recombinant Human Erythropoietin (EPO).

Battie’s comments follow allegations from registered Victorian trainer Charlie Wilson, who admitted to doping one of his greyhounds with EPO on two occasions, with a pre-race swab obtained from the greyhound the second time returning a negative result.

Wilson claims he administered the drug in order to prove corruption within the greyhound racing industry and to identify that Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) are not testing for the permanently banned substance.

However, Battie told Australian Racing Greyhound this is incorrect.

“I can categorically tell you that every single sample that comes through this lab gets tested for EPO,” Battie said.

“In fact, I’d say with confidence we’ve done more research in this lab on EPO than any other lab in the world.”

Wilson claims he purchased the EPO online from overseas countries, including China, before injecting the dog Big Show Mullo two days out from a race on August 11 with 0.2mL intravenously.

Big Show Mullo ran second in that event at $21, before returning the following week where he ran seventh. A pre-race swab was taken from the greyhound on this occasion, with Wilson claiming he tripled the dosage given to the dog.

While Battie said he had not been made aware of the Wilson case or any of its surrounding controversy, he did say that any product coming from China or ‘unscrupulous sources’ should be met with great scepticism.

“We have done a lot of work with Australian customs and seen a lot of that in recent times (substances coming through China),” he said.

“We are testing substances all the time for customs and noticing a lot that are named or believed to be EPO end up not being those substances at all.”

Battie said that another reason why EPO could evade detection in some cases is the time between being administered to the animal or human in question and the testing. For obvious reasons, he could not elaborate on the time period needed to find positive swabs.

On the subject of the price of EPO testing, Battie did confirm that EPO proved to be more expensive to test for, but that it didn’t stop the RASL searching for it.

“There’s no question it’s more expensive to test for EPO, but we’re able to make efficiencies in our testing to allow for that – like I’ve said, no vial comes through here without being tested for it.”

Greyhound Racing NSW head veterinarian John Newell also weighed in on the topic, explaining that the presence of EPO in a swab would depend on the drug’s half-life and the withdrawal period prior to the race.

“I am not aware of its half-life and how long it takes to degrade in the system. The detectability of the drug would depend on whether it has worn off at that time,” Newell said.

Newell’s comments also aligned with those of Battie, explaining that overseas substances labelled as EPO could potentially result in a negative swab due to their poor quality.

“It is available online and a lot of the so-called EPOs from India, Pakistan are certainly not the quality or potency of the registered pharmaceutical product manufactured by recognised companies in Australia.

“They wouldn’t be as efficient or potent initially and as such they would degrade more rapidly [therefore affecting how they work and swab].”

Newell also said that incorrect use of the drug can have damaging results for the greyhound itself and can have a reverse effect on the track.

“It is not a drug which would give an immediate hit because it changes the blood parameters of the greyhound,” he said.

“EPO stimulates the bone marrow to produce extra red [blood] cells and haemoglobin, thereby increasing the oxygen carrying capacity – meaning more oxygen gets to the muscles during exercise.

“Inadvertent use does cause problems because it increases the packed cell volume and it can actually make dogs go slower.

“If the blood becomes too thick it can’t pump around the dog’s system.

“Just to use it and hope it is going to work could cause the dog to have a heart attack.”

Past Discussion

  1. Anyone that wants to inject their dogs with banned substances should be banned themselves -for life. We’re talking about man’s best friend here. Most of the smaller trainers and treat their dogs like their own children -would you inject your own child.The quicker the industry rids itself of any corrupt element the better. 

  2. Anyone who wants to inject their dog with banned substances should be banned themselves – for life. We’re talking about man’s best friend here. A lot of trainers treat their dogs like their own children – would you inject your own child. The industry needs to rid itself of any corrupt element that refuses to act within the rules. 

  3. I have owned and trained greyhounds since 1965 and i have in that time had a group race starter.  In my experience if a greyhound is broken in properly and chasing with absolute conviction,  is trained to the minute and it is as fit as is possible to be, drugs will not make it run outside of it’s skin and go faster than it is physically capable of running.

    Part of the problem as i see it is that would be trainers have never had an athletic career themselves and have no idea what being in fine physical condition is or how long it takes to reach that peak.  They are always looking for the short cut…. the easy way ..the quick quid…or they don’t know what they’re doing anyway.

    My dogs have always run on their merits won lots of races and it has been a very satisfying journey.

  4. Todman 

    With respect Todman, as i have stated (in my experience) a dog that is unfit will run a personal best on drugs????

    To me that simply means it has a lazy trainer or he doesn’t know much about  training for peak performance.  Peak performance means FULL EFFORT.

  5. Todman To have trained or handled a group dog during its existence on this planet really opens your eyes to how elite the top shelf dogs actually are. To then want to play around with such a specimen is not really chance, it’s stupidity .I personally have a group dog that had 29 starts for 15 wins &17 swabs. Not much chance there. 

  6. RUBBISH, drugs help immensely despite what u think, sorry mate it’s true and putting your head in the sand won’t help, ban the bastards I say

  7. ”I HAVE A GENIUS MIND”..quoted from CW own thesis on himself.

    yep,i am a genius because I buy my EPO from CHINA,and unlike most drug buyers,i have a genius trust system,that the goods I purchase are genuine. I am to much of a genius in the mind,to be duped by anyone. yep, I am the genuine thing.the picture of a  modern thinking man.not much I cant do actually.im comfortable in my lot. geniuses have that ability to feel comfortable as we control our minds,unlike mere mortals…..

  8. Interesting this attack has been made in Victoria. In NSW the drug profiling of greyhounds without accreditation carried a maximum penalty of two years jail . (see recommendations of the ICAC commission 2000 when show cause was issued why  charges should not be laid at the agricultural committee level.

  9. Todman  Sorry Todman but if a dog doesn’t  have it , drugs won’t make it go faster  and lone widow  is closer to the mark ! I’ve been educating greyhounds for thirty years or more and i’ve never been able to make a slow dog run fast. 

  10. Todman Your logic breaks down as you assume that people who drug dogs know what they are doing and have scientific evidence of results etc.

    To fully understand the implications of the successful drugging of athletes the best read is the Secret Race by Taylor Hamilton that reveals the widespread doping in the Tour De France cycle events with particular reference to Lance Armstrong.

    Most of the cyclists  taking drugs and not getting the performance they want and they are causing great injury to themselves.

    The same applies in any sport with athletes, successful drugging is at a very high level of organisation and scientific skill and if available available to a few only.

    What is more obvious is that the drugging of animals will in most cases have a bad effect on their welfare and health and the charges against drugging animals should fall into the welfare breeches , particularly in NSW, where it is a criminal offence for un-accredited organisations to carry out drug profiling on animals without a clearance at least from an ethical committee set up for the purpose.

    If the above allegations of the whistle blower and the Welfare organisation intrusion into drug profiling on a greyhound for whatever reason, then questions should be asked as to whether the above should face a show cause for breaches under the agricultural act.

    There may be a loophole that allows experimental unofficial drug testing in Victoria but if the welfare organisations are encouraging unethical behaviour themselves they really need to look at what they are all about anyway.

  11. Todman I have no doubt that testosterone increases the strength of a greyhound and benefits stayers particularly.

    We all remember the ‘Tour De France’ when Floyd Landers fell in a heap one day and ran away from the field in the mountains the next.  It was found of course that he had very high elevated levels of testosterone.

    Again it gets back to fitness. (in my view)

  12. “We have done a lot of work with Australian customs and seen a lot of that in recent times (substances coming through China),” he said.

    “We are testing substances all the time for customs and noticing a lot that are named or believed to be EPO end up not being those substances at all.”

    Doing a lot of work with customs you say?

    doesnt’t seem to be having any affect mate. he got drugs thru from CHINA undetected….so customs and your testing are to be questioned. lets be serious here. is the test lab really capable of detection,or is it a case of take money and just tick the negative box? please explain that…..

  13. Something must be happening ! two leading  Sydney trainers visited this week unannounced,we wonder, what they the officials where looking for ?

  14. BobWhitelaw  if it was who I suspect,it was more a fact finding mission about a dog CW purchased.

    this dog died.and there the story begins and twists and this dog alone is showing holes in this CW’s tale.

  15. spyman BobWhitelaw Back in 2012 i had a show cause  from GRNSW  bringing the industry into disrepute re comments i had made about my belief of corruption within the industry on radio , with which i’am still waiting for a  final result from  this show cause and part of their investigation was my Phone Records  to see who i had been talking to, which i obliged . Well the story goes like this, those who brought on this Show cause got the AR*E  and i’am still here watching the wheels go round and round ,lol. So what does that tell you about my claim,and those other Grubs who put the boot in  me re my claim don’t hear anything from them these days but what is concerning one of them is part of the Alliance’  say no more and has already had a audience with BAIRD’s Panel. I’am adopting a waiting and see  with CW’s tale and this Panel i feel it could be far more  reaching than what is out there at the moment ?

  16. BobWhitelaw spyman  I am hearing you loud and clear BOB.

    some interesting stuff concerning identities in NSW connected to ‘incidents’over past year or so. reconisance missions is a good army terminology,that sort of fits some comments being bandied about.oh how one would  love to spill the guts….

    thankfully,we have 2 sides going at each other,and this is good because they are trying to win friends back,but the ball is over the fence now.damage done,and more coming.

  17. spyman BobWhitelaw Its  a same,and more will spill out into the public arena,  but at the end of the day it will be the industry that will  suffer because of a small minority  motivated  by greed !