The Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) failed to inform the Department of Agriculture that a prized greyhound which won this year’s Irish Laurels championship had tested positive for cocaine.

Last week the IGB declined to explain why it did not alert the department’s special investigations unit (SIU) immediately to the discovery that Clonbrien Hero, trained by Graham Holland, tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine.

The SIU is responsible for prosecuting anyone who administers illegal drugs to animals in sport. Its officers are permitted to carry out raids and seize evidence.

The IGB, also known as Bord na gCon, is said to have received confirmation in August that traces of benzoylecgonine had been found in three urine samples taken from Clonbrien Hero after it raced in Cork on June 24, July 1 and July 22. The samples were taken during routine tests carried out by the IGB as part of an ongoing anti-doping offensive.

According to sources with knowledge of the IGB investigation, its officials contacted Holland at his training centre in the village of Golden, Co Tipperary, last Tuesday.

The Department of Agriculture was not informed about the results until Wednesday afternoon, hours before the IGB published the details on its website.

“If a dog provides a urine sample which gives a positive for cocaine, the trainer’s yard should be subjected to an unannounced search,” said an industry source. “The IGB kept the agency that had the legal power to conduct a proper search in the dark.”

Holland has said he had never administered an illegal drug to a greyhound. He told The Sunday Times he believes Clonbrien Hero ingested a small amount of cocaine by licking people’s hands when they stroked the dog’s head after it won a race.

Edward Ryan, the vice-chairman of the Irish Greyhound Owners and Breeders Federation, said the IGB had shown itself to be incapable of policing the greyhound industry. He claimed the use of banned substances by some professional trainers had prompted many “hobby” owners to leave the sport.

“The IGB is not fit for purpose. Greyhound owners want a clean sport with no cheating. As far as we are concerned, you should get a long ban if your dog tests positive,” said Ryan.

The IGB declined to comment on its handling of the investigation into Holland on the grounds it could prejudice its inquiries, but insisted it worked closely with the SIU, which had been informed of the matter. The IGB said it had followed all the protocols contained in the Greyhound Industry Racing Regulations Act when dealing with Clonbrien Hero.

“The publication of all adverse analytical findings are designed to provide full transparency and to give information to all interested parties, whether these be from within the industry or external to it,” said the spokesman.


The IGB Board & Executive welcomed Ministers Michael Creed TD and Andrew Doyle TD to Limerick Greyhound Stadium for a short meeting on the future direction of the industry. Nobody in IGB considered the recent multiple findings of cocaine, amphetamines and stanozolol worth a mention to the two Ministers.  Back row L-R, Pat Creed, Frank Nyhan, Billy O’Dwyer, Riona Heffernan, Matt Murphy. Front row L-R, Colm Gaynor, Minister Andrew Doyle TD, Minister Michael Creed TD, Chairman of IGB Phil Meaney.