An administrative judge in Florida has ruled to invalidate a greyhound drug testing protocol that state agencies have been using for years.

On Friday, Judge Lawrence Stevenson found problems with the manual being used by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation's pari-mutuel wagering division to test race dogs for drugs.

In September, two greyhound trainers who cared for dogs that tested positive for cocaine metabolites challenged the rules and drug testing protocol in court, in hopes of reinstating their suspended licenses.

Charles McClellan and Natasha Nemeth both trained dogs for racing at Best Bet Orange Park and had their licenses to train suspended following violations handed down by DBPR after several of their dogs failed the state's routine drug test.

RELATED: Greyhound trainers await judge decision on FL drug rules for racedogs

DBPR said the Greyhound Veterinary Assistant Procedures Manual has been used in all tests since 2010, meaning Friday's ruling could impact other cases where DBPR relied on the manual to reprimand a trainer.

According to the judge's order, DBPR used the 2010 manual to train its employees on the specific protocols and procedures for sampling racing greyhounds' urine, even after being instructed by the court to stop using it in 2015.

"In violation of...Florida Statutes, [DBPR] has continued to rely on Section 3 of the 2010 Greyhound Veterinary Assistant Procedures Manual, even after being ordered to cease all reliance on {it}," the order reads. "Agency action taken in reliance on [Section 3 of the manual after 2015} is invaild."

Animal activist groups like Grey2KUSA worry the ruling leaves racedogs vulnerable and without a program to regulate prohibited drugs in the animals.

"This is a disastrous ruling that undermines animal welfare and the integrity of the bets at these facilities," said Cary Theil, executive director of non profit Grey2KUSA. "This was the only thing that protects the health and welfare of greyhounds and for this to be stripped away from the industry is disappointing...and needs to be fixed."

First Coast News is waiting on a comment from the legal team for Nemeth and McClellan. Attorney for the trainers, Jennifer Rosenblum said earlier this week the anticipated ruling would have widespread impact.

“The two count challenge that we filed is important to the racing industry as well as to the public," Rosenblum said. "If this was simply about defending my clients, an entirely separate case [challenging the rules] would not have been filed.”

On Friday, DBPR representatives said they are currently evaluating the ruling that was issued by the Division of Administrative Hearings Friday, but could not comment on whether emergency rules would be put in place for current races.

Bestbet CEO Howard Korman responded to the ruling by confirming that the two individuals involved were no longer working at its facilities in Jacksonville and were in no way connected to Bestbet.

"We believe there is clear guidance for state regulators to enforce appropriate and stringent drug testing of all racing animals and hoped for serious sanctions against behavior that we have a zero tolerance for at our facilities." Korman said. "While we commend regulatory staff for the important work they do, we hope the state will appeal this ruling and take actions to continue their enforcement of the suspensions already in place."

Order on Greyhound Drug Testing Protocol - December 22, 2017 on Scribd