JACKSONVILLE, Fla.- A greyhound trainer at the center of an investigation into dogs testing positive for a cocaine metabolite at Bestbet in Orange Park is claiming innocence.
Charles McClellan appeared before an administrative judge in a hearing over the suspension of his license Wednesday.
According to state documents, 12 greyhounds under McClellan's care from January through April this year--tested positive for Benzoylecgonine (BZE), a metabolite of cocaine. One of those dogs, Flicka, tested positive six times.
"I don't know. I don't do that. I don't give my dogs cocaine." McClellan told First Coast News after the hearing.
The hearing was supposed to determine whether McClellan would be able to get his license back. However, he asked for the hearing to be delayed because he had not yet secured a lawyer and was working to get one.
'It went crazy from June 9th to now. Can't get my landlord to rent to me because he saw the TV. Can't find a job no where in this business I've been in 40 years.' McClellan said at the hearing.
While he does not face any criminal charges, McClellan could be fined up to $5,000 and his license permanently revoked. He had his license suspended for 60 days after a 2011 incident in Brevard County where a greyhound tested positive for a banned "narcotic analgesic". McClellan defended that incident Wednesday, saying "The one in Melbourne, I wasn't using gloves and I was taking my back pills."
As for the incidents at Bestbet, McClellan blames "environmental contact", such as possible cocaine residue on other people's hands, is the actual cause of the positive tests. He says it's unfair to blame him.
"Where do you start? It's a nanogram. It's environmental contact. There's 30 people that touches the dogs a day."
The state, however, says McClellan is responsible as the trainer of record for the greyhounds.
McClellan isn't the only trainer racing greyhounds at Best Bet Orange Park cited for cocaine violations in greyhounds. The state has also cited a second trainer, Natasha Nemeth, who was listed as the trainer of record for five dogs that tested positive for BZE.
McClellan's administrative hearing is now set for early November.