Friday 22 September 2017

GAA players to face blood testing in new Sports Council war on drugs

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

GAA players will be subjected to blood testing in the near future to prove that they are drug free.

Gaelic games stars are currently subjected to urine testing but the Irish Sports Council (ISC) has revealed that it is now rolling out blood testing for all Irish sports in the next year.

GAA players are only tested after matches, or at training, and are not subjected to any random testing outside team training or games.

The ISC stressed yesterday that they will initially prioritise "high-risk sports" which means GAA players are unlikely to face blood testing until next year at the earliest.

"It (blood testing) is in the early stages and I don't expect it for the GAA this year, but I don't see why the GAA should have a problem with it," said Dr Una May, the ISC's Director of Anti-Doping. "Their players have always been very supportive of our work."

loophole

The GAA have already been asked to address one major loophole in their anti-doping arrangement, which was exposed in the past 12 months.

When drug testers arrived at four separate inter-county training sessions, they found the venues empty as the teams had switched to train elsewhere.

There is a serious sanction for individual athletes if they are not where they said they would be but no sanction had been agreed with the GAA in the case of a whole team failing a 'whereabouts' test.

The Sports Council urgently wants the GAA to introduce a sanction to avoid this happening again and the Irish Independent understands that it is on the agenda for this weekend's Management Meeting.

Four League of Ireland soccer teams missed testing last year in the exact same circumstances and the FAI has also been asked to design an agreed sanction which will address that anomaly.

Irish Independent

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