Monaghan footballer in two-year doping ban
The GAA have been urged to "intensify" its efforts to make everyone connected with inter-county games "more cognisant" of their obligations under the association's anti-doping rules.
It follows a two-year ban for Monaghan footballer Thomas Connolly who admitted the violation but sought a hearing to dispute its consequences.
He was able to satisfy the anti-doping panel that sat for the case that his use of the banned steroid Stanozolol was "unintentional". Because of this the standard four-year ban was halved.
Connolly, who only joined the Monaghan squad late last year and played in McKenna Cup games, advised the panel that he had taken tablets containing the banned substance for pain relief after a series of hard training sessions.
The tablets had been given to him by a work colleague, he claimed. He did not seek advice from any of Monaghan's medical personnel.
Despite being "impressed" by the submissions of GAA officials on the issue of anti-doping, the panel said they were "seriously concerned about the lack of understanding and application of anti-doping rules and processes in this case at county level."
They said there was a "high degree of negligence" in the case.
In his evidence, Connolly claimed he was never advised of the existence of the anti-doping rules, their applicability to him or the sanctions involved from any breach. He was supported on this by Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke and County Board chairman Padraig Sherry. In defence, Connolly's counsel Aaron Shearer described the GAA's anti-doping testing as "onerous".
The 23-year-old from the Latton club was tested out of competition on February 13 and has been provisionally suspended since March 18. He has the right to appeal.
The panel comprised Adrian Colton QC, former Dublin All-Ireland-winning football manager and player Dr Pat O'Neill and former GAA president and Kilkenny All-Ireland hurling winner Nickey Brennan.