Greyhound trainer banned for two years after winning dog tests positive for meth

A greyhound trainer who was a methamphetamine user has been banned from the sport for two years and seven months after one of her dogs tested positive for the drug.

Marie Prangley's dog Thrilling Freddy finished first in a race at the Manukau Raceway on July 24, however, a urine test of the dog confirmed the Class A drug was present.

When interviewed by investigators from the Racing Integrity Board (RIB), Prangley admitted she smoked methamphetamine at least three or four times a month, and had used meth three days before the race meeting.  

She agreed to a hair follicle and urine test conducted by the Drug Detection Agency, both of which returned positive results for methamphetamine and amphetamine.

In a decision issued by the RIB’s adjudicative committee, Prangley accepted her mistakes but says she never intended to contaminate her racing dog.

"Although, a major wrongdoing on my part, I would like to make it clear that there was no act of deliberation behind the positive drug result for 'Thrilling Freddy'," Prangley said. "There must have been some form of cross-contamination from my own personal use. 

"This is the last thing I would want for any of my dogs whom I love very much."

Prangely, who has kennels in Clevedon, admitted she had used methamphetamine "on and off" for the past 16 years. She had planned to stop greyhound racing due to her age and said it's "deeply upsetting to be going out like this".

"I am embarrassed, and I have disappointed myself and those closest to me, this has affected them in more ways than you can imagine," she said.

Prangley was given credit for her early guilty plea and for taking full responsibility for her actions.

Last month another trainer, Ethan Toomer, was banned from racing for three years after his racing dog Thrilling Stella also tested positive for methamphetamine. Toomer admitted using the drug one day before he entered his dog in a race in Cambridge.   

Aaron Cross from the Greyhound Protection League says this latest case doesn't bode well for the industry, which has been put on notice by the Government. 

"It's just another example of the industry demanding its own closure. People have seen many undesirable sides of greyhound racing now. The more you learn, the worse it gets."

Animal rights group SAFE's Campaign Manager Anna de Roo told Newshub it's "deeply disturbing".

"Methamphetamine detections in the greyhound racing industry are more prevalent than in any other racing industry in New Zealand. SAFE hopes the Racing Minister is paying close attention to the continuous animal welfare scandals coming from the greyhound racing industry."

The Chief Executive of the Racing Integrity Board, Mike Clement, told Newshub it's central to the integrity of racing and animal welfare that participants present animals free of illegal substances. 

He said the decision "clearly demonstrates the consequences for anyone in the industry who gets it wrong." 

"Methamphetamine is far too prevalent in NZ communities.  The evidence of its destructive impact is there for everyone to see on a daily basis, the racing industry is not immune. If there is a positive with this case, it is that the trainer will follow through on a pledge to seek assistance with her drug addiction."

The outgoing CEO of Greyhound Racing NZ (GRNZ), Glenda Hughes, says she fully supports the RIB's investigations and the outcomes. 

She said the industry had a "zero tolerance regime" to illegal substances, including methamphetamine. 

"Registered racing greyhounds are the only dog breed in New Zealand which are routinely tested for drugs including methamphetamine. We continue to educate our trainers of the importance of  vigilance to prevent contamination occurring."

Data from GRNZ shows two dogs tested positive for methamphetamine in the 2020/2021 season, and four have tested positive for meth so far this season. 

The SPCA's Dr Alison Vaughan said it was time to end commercial greyhound racing in New Zealand.

Dr Vaughan says the SPCA has tried to work constructively with the industry but it hasn't worked. 

"SPCA has tried for years to work with the industry to improve greyhound welfare and has found that the greyhound racing industry has demonstrated a history of being unwilling or unable to adequately address its significant animal welfare problems."