Schoolboy rugby players to be tested for drugs
The IRFU and the Sports Council are to introduce anti-doping drug tests for schoolboy rugby players.
Following lengthy discussions between the authorities, the tests for performance-enhancing drugs are to be introduced "in the relatively near future".
Speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland this morning, Dr Una May, director of the anti-doping unit at the Sports Council, said: “We already test quite young athletes in sports like swimming and gymnastics but the way rugby is structured the younger players are playing in schools, which is run more through the schools rather than the national governing body of sport.
"We negotiated over time with the IRFU and we've decided we will start with the national squad level and work down from there."
Dr May said it is hoped the testing programme would act as a deterrent. “When we test at younger levels it's about protecting the individuals. We've no desire to catch people out. We want it to be a deterrent.
"Rugby is a high-risk sport and it's high risk for the athletes in terms of the temptation to take something in order to get themselves on to the top level.
"We will be focusing on getting the education element right to start with.
"We want to make sure the athletes know how the programme works, what drugs are banned and how to protect themselves so they don't fall foul by accidentally ingesting something."