With the media awash with hundreds of pages in print and unlimited TV coverage about drugs in sport, what a great time it is to pound out what is probably one of greyhound racing’s biggest assets – its tight controls over drug use and its heavy penalties for offenders, both dog and man.
A few figures about swabs, negative and positive results, banned substances and how it is all done could make a big impression on an unknowing public. At any other time editors would just yawn, but today it is topical and interesting.
Of course there are crooks, as there are in any walk of life. But more important is what you do about them.
The football saga has got to the silly stage now as it is clear that the major impetus is coming from politicians and organisations keen to get their name in the paper. Whether or not some guilty folk emerge in the end is almost irrelevant. It is verging on a disgrace, but unfortunately one that has been spread around the world.
Indeed, it seems the most vital point is being missed: a sporting culture which throws more and more drugs into players’ diets is very sad. It is sending a huge message to the kids, never mind whether the substances are legal or not. In my view, the most unfortunate one of all is the constant advertising of vitamin pills, always featuring elite athletes. These are people who are supervised, diet and all, within an inch of their lives so the last thing they would need is extra vitamins. In fact, many experts have been critical of the very concept of healthy people with balanced diets taking vitamin supplements at all.
For example, in a story in Fairfax (Feb 13), Dr Andrew Duff, who advises the AFL Players Association, said “one would think that if we’ve got players who are being regulated really well with regards (sic) to their training loads and their nutrition, that it would be very rare to have someone with a deficiency that would need supplementing”.
One of the problems with getting out the greyhound story is that our national body, Greyhounds Australasia, meets infrequently and deals with drugs only on a few, specifically delegated issues. It meets infrequently and has no power other than that an individual member might accept. In practice, each state, as in this case, will do its own thing under whatever its local laws and regulations allow.
Here is a classic case where half a dozen different approaches will not cut the mustard anyway. It is clearly a national issue. Even were GA to crank into action, it would take weeks or months before anything emerged, if then. That’s no way to run an industry in a world that thrives on instant technology and fast moving news.
A colleague previously highlighted the extraordinary success of Wheeler-bred dogs at the two Melbourne tracks. Quite so, but it’s not confined to that city.
Two group wins within three days in Perth and Launceston flag the breed’s abilities. Dyna Nalin in the Perth Cup and Xylia Allen in the Group 2 Cup in Tassie illustrate the point. Interestingly, both these come from small litters – three and two, respectively.
Xylia Allen has a pretty good motor so its good getaway resulted in a record 29.09 run over Launceston’s 515m trip. She has a touch of the Irish in her recent background (with a little help from Top Honcho).
Note also that Paul Wheeler and trainer Grahame Bate were responsible for three of the First Four in Launceston. Bate himself trained all four, which may be some sort of record as well.
Dyna Nalin has been a prolific winner in local races in WA but was a touch fortunate to pick up this one. It had an ordinary jump but got the benefit of some bumping on the first turn and sailed up along the rail into a handy spot. Its time was only average for this class of race.
Favourite Glen Gallon was a victim of the cutaway shape of the Cannington turn. It moved to the right at the wrong time, as many do, suffered the consequences and did well to finish on into 4th spot. The upcoming move to a new track in Perth must avoid this disruptive feature. (Mandurah is good – and it had its first turn fixed – so use that as a guide).
Incidentally, since the Wheeler dynasty has proved so successful, you would think one or two others might try to set up some genuine competition at a comparable level. It’s more or less present in the ownership area but not really in breeding. That would be a tall order, but why not?