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GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail on drugs scandal: It would be wrong to use the word cheat at this time

GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail has stated that the Association will always co-operate fully in any case where a player fails a drugs test.

Ó Fearghail was responding to news this morning that a young Monaghan player failed a drugs test, as reported in the Sunday Independent.

The player is believed to have tested positive for a steroid during a recent test and is currently under investigation by the Irish Sports Council's Anti-Doping unit.

"This is something that is on-going. There have been allegations, I am aware of that," said Ó Fearghail on RTE Radio this afternoon.

"There are procedures and we work very very closely with the Irish Sports Council and we don't have any issues with that. We co-operate fully at our training sessions, we co-operate fully at our matches.

"We have close to one million members of the GAA and many things happen but as I said, this is an on-going process."

The President was also eager to state that it would be wrong to jump to any conclusions at this early stage.

"The main thing is that I think our members are volunteers. Whether they play for their clubs or counties there is no personal gain there, they do it because they love the place they are from, they do it for various reasons. This is an on-going process and it would be very wrong for us to make a judgement.


There are claims that data in a widely heralded stem-cell research paper was falsified

There are claims that data in a widely heralded stem-cell research paper was falsified

There are claims that data in a widely heralded stem-cell research paper was falsified

"There are many issues that can impact on why something like this can happen in a medical situation for a young player."

O'Farrell also believes that GAA players possess a unique hunger for success but will more often than not push themselves within the rules of the game.

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"I think that players will always do what they can to win right from when the Association was founded back in 1884. Players will always compete at the highest level to win but I think it would be unfair to discuss and use the word cheat in the same sentence as what is happening.

"This is an on-going issue, players will do what they can to win but generally they will always do it within the rules of the game as best they can. 

The player, understood to be in his 20s, is not currently a member of the Monaghan senior inter-county panel but has been on the fringes of the squad.

The GPA released a statement today reading: “The GPA is currently advising a GAA player who has had an adverse finding as a result of an out-of-competition drug test in February of this year.

"The player in question is a trial panellist and whilst he is not a member of the GPA, the Association is nonetheless providing him with personal and professional support.

“As the process before the GAA Anti-Doping Hearings Committee is ongoing the GPA will be making no further comment on the matter until the Hearings Committee has concluded its deliberations. The GPA is committed to supporting the Anti-Doping protocols.”

The news of the failed test comes as the GAA and the Irish Sports Council are preparing to introduce blood testing of Gaelic footballers and hurlers for the first time. Currently, there is just urine testing of players in place, both in competition and out of competition.

But it is expected that blood testing of players will commence next year, although the exact details of how it will be applied have yet to be ironed out.

The GPA said last week that it supports the anti-doping programme but a spokesperson added that intensive education will be required prior to the change in the testing regime, and not just for players, but also for team managements, backroom staff, medical and support personnel.

A spokesperson for the GAA yesterday declined to comment on the failed test, but it's understood the Association has not yet been formally notified of any adverse findings. A spokesperson for the Irish Sports Council also declined to comment.

As the matter remains under investigation by the Anti-Doping unit, the GAA and the Irish Sports Council will not become involved until, according to a source, "due process" has been completed.

The GAA have been drug-testing senior inter-county players as part of an agreement with the Irish Sports Council since 2001. Last year, 89 drug tests were undertaken in the GAA - 44 in competition and 45 out of competition.

Since testing of GAA players began, there has been just one adverse finding, when Kerry's Aidan O'Mahony tested positive for Salbutamol, a banned substance after the 2008 All-Ireland final defeat to Tyrone.

Salbutamol is commonly found in inhalers and O'Mahony, a lifelong asthma sufferer, was subsequently granted a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) and did not face any sanction.

It is not known what explanation, if any, has been offered by the player at the centre of the latest incident.

The sports council published its 2014 Anti-Doping Review last week at an event in Dublin during which GAA players were described as being in the "low-risk" category.

In total, 1,054 tests including 279 blood tests were conducted last year, with three adverse findings

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