Working a sting with Vaseline and gum

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The Independent Online

The twilight world of greyhound racing has many attractions for the casual punter. Unfortunately, it has also been prey to scam and scandal, an alluring arena for those seek to profit from bending the rules.

At many of the smaller tracks - especially on those which do not operate under the rules of the National Greyhound Racing Club - a variety of methods have been used to pull off a sting.

Despite improved checks and testing, they can still go undected. Vaseline smeared in the dog's eyes will slow it down on the track, and small pieces of chewing gum can be stuck in between the dog's toes to irritate the animal and stop it from running at its usual pace.

Feeding the dog at the wrong time will throw it off balance, and some consortiums resort to the use of travel sickness tablets, speed-up drugs or hard narcotics to reduce the animal's performance and balance.

It has even been alleged in the past that some trainers resort to the use of "ringers" - several dogs from the same litter which are similar in appearance but which are of varying ability. Although dogs need to be registered to race with a tattoo behind one ear, it is suggested that there are ways of duplicating the tattoo. And, apparently, encouraging the dog to masturbate before a race will keep it in the stragglers.

But whatever the scam, the intention remains the same, to slow down the dog for a number of races in order to bring down the odds for a future event. There can be fines for a drastic improvement in a dog's performance, but there is always the possibility that the cheats are a step ahead of the detectives.