Department of Racing defends its regulation of greyhound racing

Published: Apr. 9, 2014 at 1:08 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:15 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Department of Racing asserts that while it has made sure to keep its authority in regulating dog racing to maintain consistency at the track, that does not mean that dogs are being treated with steroids.

A letter from the department earlier this week in response to a previous story said that allowing Tucson Greyhound Park to inject dogs with steroids would be in violation of a 2008 South Tucson initiative that bans steroid use.

Small doses of testosterone can control the female dogs' cycles, which keeps order in the kennels.  Greyhound advocates say that the use of testosterone in the females also harms them, which is why they presented the initiative that passed in 2008.

Last year the Department of Racing told South Tucson that it's the state's job to regulate racing, which

has raised questions whether the South Tucson initiative has been upheld.

A written response from the department information officer said that it has invested thousands of dollars to test for all drugs in the dogs, which includes steroids.

Part of the letter states: "As a result of our testing procedures, we are confident that currently there are no dogs running at Tucson Greyhound Park that are using steroids or other performance enhancing drugs."

This would be a change from correspondence from the department under previous directors, according to greyhound advocate Susan Via, who drafted the 2008 South Tucson initiative.

"They said it was common practice.  In one report, they said that all the trainers admitted giving it to their female dogs at Tucson Greyhound Park after the ordinance banned it and yet they refuse to find any violation or do anything about that obvious violation of law," Via said.

The death of a greyhound during a race early last month prompted our request for kennel logs and track rosters which the department told me it does not maintain.  Local advocates are pushing for more open records, along with changes to a racing bill that asserts the department's authority over racing in local jurisdictions and gives the department final say on any local regulations passed in regards to racing.

The letter said that the department is working with South Tucson and not trying to go over its authority.  Via said that the dogs appear to not have had their fertility cycles, which questions the use of steroids.

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