Tuesday 16 January 2018

Players and teams 'have no excuse' with doping rules

Kerry's Brendan O'Sullivan Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Kerry's Brendan O'Sullivan Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Inter-county GAA players and teams have "no excuse" in overlooking the obligations that anti-doping rules pose, the association's anti-doping hearing committee stated in passing its judgement on Kerry footballer Brendan O'Sullivan's positive test for a banned substance which was revealed in a test after the 2016 league final against Dublin.

The case only came to light last week and the full report was released by Sport Ireland yesterday.

O'Sullivan was banned for 21 weeks after appealing the six-month ban handed down initially by the GAA's anti-doping committee in February. He had rejected an initial seven-month ban after entering into consultation with Sport Ireland, having admitted the violation.

The player was able to prove that there was no significant fault or negligence on his behalf after he admitted taking a caffeine tablet to boost energy at half-time in the match.

He had purchased the tablets - 'Falcon Labs Oxyburn Pro Superthermotech' - on the advice of a friend he knew from a gym after explaining how the taste of caffeine gels, recommended and provided by the Kerry nutritionist, did not agree with him. However, he did not consult the Kerry nutritionist on his change of approach.

O'Sullivan felt there would be no difference between the tablet and gel forms and there was no mention on the label of the product he took that it contained the banned substance Methylhexaneamine (MHA).

O'Sullivan was able to satisfy Sport Ireland in its initial consultation that he had researched the product and its contents on the internet and that the tub he purchased had been contaminated.

Testing revealed that the levels of MHA were commensurate with the consumption of one of the caffeine tablets in question.

In his submission to Sport Ireland O'Sullivan claimed that, as a newcomer to the panel in 2016, he had received "little or no instruction" from Kerry County Board about anti-doping procedures, and that he had received "no information at all."

However, the three-man committee stressed that high profile teams like Kerry have no excuses and that the amateur argument doesn't sustain.

"In the modern era where there is so much emphasis placed on the preparation of senior inter-county teams there can be no excuse for any county team or any county player being unaware of the obligations imposed under the anti-doping rules," it wrote.

"Nor are we impressed by the argument that in this case, the athlete is an amateur player. The anti-doping rules apply to all athletes in Ireland."

Irish Independent

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