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Lawmakers Target Steroids In Greyhound Racing

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The House Tourism & Gaming Control Subcommittee on Wednesday unanimously approved a measure that would ban injecting racing greyhounds with steroids.

Sponsor Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, said the bill (HB 743) would end a practice that involves giving steroids to female greyhounds to prevent them from going into heat, avoiding disruptions and increasing racing days but causing damage to the animals' reproductive organs.

The Florida Greyhound Association disputed Smith's claims, arguing there is no evidence the use of steroids occurs at Florida racetracks — home to some 60 percent of the nation's greyhound racing — and that it would not yield a competitive advantage if it did.

Industry advocates also said the proposal would prevent veterinarians from prescribing steroids to racing dogs in cases where it is medically necessary, a scenario Smith said did not exist.

Several proponents of the bill said they would prefer to outlaw greyhound racing but were supporting the bill in an effort to incrementally send racing to a "death by a thousand paper cuts," as co-sponsor Rep. Alex Miller, R-Sarasota, put it. Amendments to include additional protections for racing dogs were considered but not adopted. An identical Senate bill (SB 512), sponsored by Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa, was filed Tuesday.