GAA player hit with two-year ban for doping offence
The Monaghan player who was found to have committed an anti-doping violation has been banned for two years the GAA and Irish Sports Council has announced.
Thomas Connolly has been sanctioned by a period of ineligibility of two years commencing on the 18th March 2015 – the date on which he was provisionally suspended by the GAA, subject to rights of appeal within 21 days under the Irish Anti-Doping Rules.
Connolly could have been hit with the standard four-year ban but the GAA Anti-Doping Hearings Committee was of the view that the anti-doping rule violation was not intentional.
In an out of competition doping control test on the 13th February he provided a sample which tested positive for the presence of a prohibited substance, 3’-hydroxystanozolol glucuronide (Stanozolol).
The violation was first revealed by The Sunday Independent, with GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail eager to stress at the time that he didn't believe doping was a widespread problem within the Association and stressed it was "unfair" to use the word "cheating" in the context of what has happened.
"It would be very wrong of us to make a judgement," he insisted.
"There are many issues that can impact on why something like this happens in a medical situation for a young player. I would think it is unfair to discuss and use the word cheat in the same sentence as what's happening," he added.
"Players will do what they can to try and win but they will generally always do it within the rules of the game as best they can.
"Our players are volunteers, whether they play for their counties, whether they play for their clubs. There is no personal gain for a GAA player. "They do it because they love the place they're from, they do it for various reasons."
Double Paralympic gold medallist Mark Rohan claims the GAA is no different from professional sports when it comes to cheating and strongly believes there are dopers in the amateur organisation.
The 33-year-old, who has been based in the US since December, was not surprised to hear the recent revelations and it is something he has been expecting for quite some time.
"I strongly believe there are dopers in the GAA. Once you involve money in sport it f***s everything up. The GAA is no different to any professional sport and is not exempt from cheats," Rohan told Independent.ie.
"You see big companies investing in county sponsorship and that puts added pressure on players. It just takes one high-profile guy to get injured and say 'okay I need to get something back over the winter, I need to build up something here'.
"A lot of the top counties have access to absolutely everything and the best of facilities and personnel but sometimes sports science only goes so far and the temptation for further gains is there."