Friday 15 November 2019

O' Fearghail warns against 'unfair' view of failed test

Aogán Ó Fearghail keen to point out the GAA work very closely with the Irish Sports Council’s doping controls
Aogán Ó Fearghail keen to point out the GAA work very closely with the Irish Sports Council’s doping controls
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

GAA president Aogán ó Fearghail has said there is a need to remember that GAA players are "volunteers" as the association faces its first positive doping test for use of a performance-enhancing substance.

A Monaghan footballer failed a urine test in February when he was randomly selected for testing and subsequently faced an anti-doping disciplinary hearing last month. That hearing has been adjourned to allow for further analysis.

The Gaelic Players Association, which is representing the player and offering him assistance, has described the player as a "trial panellist" who is not a member of the GPA. He is not currently part of the squad but he has played for the county in 2015.

The GPA said they would be making no further comment until the Hearings Committee has concluded its deliberations.

ó Fearghail, speaking at the launch of RTE's 2015 Championship coverage, said it is "unfair" to use the word "cheating" in the context of what has happened.

"It would be very wrong of us to make a judgement. There are many issues that can impact on why something like this happens in a medical situation for a young player," he said. "I would think it is unfair to discuss and use the word cheat in the same sentence as what's happening," said the president.

"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," said the president. "They do it because they love the place they're from, they do it for various reasons."

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ó Fearghail stressed that the GAA works very closely with the Irish Sports Council's doping controls. "We co-operate fully at our training sessions, we co-operate fully at our matches."

The GAA signed up to the anti-doping programme in 2002 after conditions were attached as part of the €75m state grant for the construction of the new Croke Park.

Tests are conducted after matches or at training sessions. County Boards are obliged to log their training plans with the Sports Council in advance, but there have been issues locating teams at the selected venues.

However, the number of unsuccessful attempts to locate teams dropped from eight to three between 2013 and 2014.

The GAA is currently in discussions with the Sports Council to introduce blood-testing in the future.

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