Two greyhound trainers who had dogs in their care that tested positive for cocaine metabolites faced a judge Thursday in hopes of getting their suspended trainer licenses reinstated.
Charles McClellan and Natasha Nemeth both trained dogs for racing at Best Bet Orange Park and received violations from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation's pari-mutual division after several of their dogs failed the state's routine drug test.
Both McClellan and Nemeth appealed DBPR's suspension of their license and later filed a petition to challenge the agency's rules on drug testing.
In the petition, the trainers argued DBPR's zero tolerance threshold for cocaine metabolites in racing greyhounds does not account for the possibility of environmental contaminants beyond the trainer's control. DBPR stated in a November court filing that they find it much more likely that positive drug tests are due to prohibited substances being purposely given to the animals by their trainers.
On Thursday, Judge Lawrence Stevenson heard the trainers' case in a hearing in Jacksonville's city hall and plans to render his final decision via written order at a later date.
An attorney for Nemeth and McClellan, Jennifer Rosenblum, told First Coast News the case could have implications for all of Florida’s racing industry.
“The two count challenge that we filed is important to the racing industry as well as to the public. If this was simply about defending my clients, an entirely separate case [challenging the rules] would not have been filed,” Rosenblum said.
If Judge Stevenson finds in favor of the trainers' petition, the decision could lead to the reinstatement of the pair's suspended dog training licenses.