Former racetrack veterinarian Ted Humphries was at the centre of the crossfire when the controversial 7.30 Report went to air. Humphries appeared on the program as an ‘insider’, describing his experiences of the greyhound racing industry which seemingly aided those that sought to demonise the sport. Humphries has spoken out about the misrepresentations portrayed in the report.
Janet Flann also appeared on the 7.30 Report- revealing some shocking and subsequently questionable accounts that left enthusiasts apprehensive and appalled. Most industry participants were enraged that Flann’s extraordinary allegations were aired without any corroboration; and Flann has never made any formal complaints to solidify the claims. Flann is opposed to greyhound racing and runs the ‘Greyhound Rescue’ organisation. In contrast to Humphries, Flann feels the program offered an underrepresentation of the industry.
Participants were shocked when the 7.30 Report spoke to one of their own, Chris Arletos, who made the gobsmacking claims that 80% of greyhound trainers are using drugs, or looking for something to drug their dogs with. Arletos has since been questioned regarding his allegations by GRNSW stewards and was subsequently fined $500 on two counts of engaging in conduct prejudicial to the interests of greyhound racing. Arletos had been unable to provide GRNSW with any substantiation for his allegations which left his fellow participants feeling upset and betrayed by one of their own.
The ABC report portrayed Humphries as a whistle-blower, and while it’s is true he has no affection for the administration of the sport by GRNSW; Humphries has clarified his stance and responded to some of the allegations made in the story by Areltos, Flann and the RSPCA.
With regard to the claims that 80% of greyhound trainers are seeking to use performance enhancing drugs, Humphries believes the truth is far more conservative and more in line with the levels of performance enhancing drugs in other sports.
“I think that would be a huge exaggeration”, Humphries said “I wouldn’t say that it is common place. I would say that there is a minority of trainers that will try if they think they will get away with something new or some compound that thinks enhances performance, yeah they will try, but the majority of them are just running clean and honest”.
One of the main criticisms stemming from the program, and one that is poorly understood by the general public is the use of Testosterone in racing bitches. The number of positive swabs to elevated Testosterone levels in recent times have given anti racing groups the ammunition they craved to launch an attack on the sport, but Humphries believes the current predicament is the result of a poorly researched and ill-considered national rule.
“It’s ridiculous. There is no scientific basis for what they have done, the few studies they have quoted are seriously scientifically flawed and the permitted dose is insufficient to keep a greyhound reliably off oestrus and in any case, every 14 days there are six days in the 14 they can’t race if they use the suppression chemicals. It’s an absurdity”
The Report also presented claims that over 17,000 dogs are euthanized each year because they are not fast enough to race. These claims were left unsubstantiated with no clear evidence to support them. Both Flann and Humphries have differing views on these figures
“I think it is about 30,000…..24,000-30,000. We have got that from greyhound people actually. You think you have ten whelping bitches- they all have ten pups each- it’s like a sport- like a tennis player- only one makes it to the top but you don’t put the rest down, do you?”, Flann argued.
“A vet nurse said she couldn’t take it anymore……she had to go into a room and put 15, 18 month old dogs down- she thought she was going to give them a C5 injection or something, but she had to put the green needle in”
Humphries on the other hand, said that based on his own clinical experience through his Western Sydney Veterinary practice; that the figures being touted were wildly inflated.
“I think that is a huge exaggeration. The figures are not accurately kept but I couldn’t see that many greyhounds being euthanized in a year- that just seems to be impossibly high”
Humphries continued by addressing the accusations that were made through RSPCA spokesperson Jade Norris, who alleged that “40% of all greyhounds bred never make it to the racetrack”. Humphries does believe that all greyhounds that are not named get put-down
“I would disagree with that too. Barring accidents and misadventure, I would say the majority of them at least get tried. Very few don’t actually have some race experience”
“I know people that have kept greyhounds without naming them because I honestly think that they have eight or ten of them and they couldn’t face the prospect that they weren’t as good as they should have been so they never ever actually put them in a real race. They trial them, they work them but they never actually trusted their confidence in their own judgement by racing them. There are lots of people like that”
Of those that are put-down, Flann made the startling comments that they are bludgeoned to death or shot on the 7.30 Report.
“You have got to face it- it is a cruel sport”, Flann stressed
“I know they are shot- I have got that in writing in an email- ‘if you don’t take this dog I will shoot it’
“According the RSPCA it is legal to shoot a dog, but according to the Greyhound Racing board- it’s illegal to shoot a dog. The RSPCA are not interested if you shoot your dog, it’s not a crime in Australia”
Moving forward, both seem to agree upon the fact that things need to change for the industry to improve
“I don’t think it can improve- not while you have got the same people that are in charge at the moment. They couldn’t care less. I’ve reported cases of cruelty to them and they have not bothered. They should all be sacked and start again”, Flann expressed, “I just think it should be banned. While ever there is money involved there will be cruelty and corruption. It’s the same as horse racing but it’s not quite as bad there because you don’t have such big litters”
Humphries also believes that the flaws of the industry lie within the controlling body
“I think the stewards are poorly trained and selected. I think they come from the ranks of the racecourse rather than any other selection process and I think their inquiry system was setup in the 1950’s…it’s just out of touch with modern expectations of justice”
“Some of these things should be dealt with, with an on the spot fine. One trainer, 75 years old, got 3 years for some ten nanograms of caffeine. So minute, it was administered as a contaminant and would have no impact on a greyhounds performance- he got three years”
“At the inquiry they had, they presented evidence, his name was Lee but they presented the records of a fellow called Lea- it wasn’t even his records. That was used to add to the conviction…it should have just been dismissed”
Dr. Humphries was directed to attend the office of GRNSW to assist with their investigations into the allegations of doping within the industry presented on the 7.30 Report on the 1st November 2013. Humphries failed to appear at the hearing and has now been directed to attend GRNSW offices on the 8th November.
Humphries had informed GRNSW in writing that he had ‘no intention of obliging’ to the original investigation however, if he does not present himself at the upcoming date, it will lead to a further direction being issued in regards to a hearing where he will be asked to show cause as to why he should not be warned off.