REVEALED - Brendan O'Sullivan took contaminated supplement without consulting physician despite warning
The supplement which caused Kerry footballer Brendan O'Sullivan's positive drug test did not list the banned substance 'MHA' among its ingredients, the considered report into the case reveals.
O'Sullivan took a supplement called 'Falcon Labs Oxyburn Pro Superthermotech' that was found to contain the banned stimulant MHA.
The considered report into O'Sullivan's case was published by Sport Ireland today.
The report reveals that O'Sullivan did not seek the advice or the Kerry nutritionist, the team doctor or his GP prior to taking the supplement, even though the the label on the product contained a warning that it was mandatory to consult with a physician prior to use.
O'Sullivan tested positive for methylhexaneamine ("MHA") after the 2016 national league final against Dublin.
Tablets from the tub used by O'Sullivan and tablets from an unopened tub were tested in by a WADA-accredited laboratory in Cologne. The results of the test and O'Sullivan's sworn testimony led to Sport Ireland accepting that it was a 'contaminated product case'.
He was given an initial seven month ban by Sport Ireland but this was reduced to 21 weeks after three appeals.
The report reveals that O'Sullivan joined the Kerry panel in 2016 and was given a supplement regime by Kerry nutritionist, Kevin Beasley and he was informed that these products had been checked for contamination and prohibited substances.
One of these products was a caffeine gel. He disliked the taste and was rarely able to finish a sachet, the report states.
A casual friend, in the run-up to the league final, suggested that he substitute the caffeine gel for a caffeine tablet, a product that turned out to be Falcon Labs Oxyburn Pro.
He purchased a container of the product in the week of the league final in a vitamin shop in Cork. He asked the person in the shop if the product was a caffeine tablet and he was told it was okay.
After purchasing the product, O'Sullivan did an internet search and nothing in the search flagged concerns about the contents of the product.
He conducted a google search on each one of the ingredients individually and presumed that the search would have said if a particular ingredient was a prohibited substance under WADA rules.
On the day of the National League final, O'Sullivan confirmed that he took some caffeine gel and Pre-fuel before the game and also gave evidence that he took a caffeine tablet from the product he had purchased before the game and at half time.
When he was asked to provide a sample after the game, he made a declaration of medications/supplements he had taken in the 14 days prior. He listed one medication and eight supplements as follows:
- Whey Protein
- Caffeine Tablets
- Caffeine Gel
- Vitamin C
- Krill Oil
The caffeine tablet was the Oxyburn Pro and it was accepted that this was the source of the MHA.
He said he had been prescribed Augmentin by his GP because of a cold he had prior to the league semi-final. Augmentin is an antibiotic.
The caffeine gel, the Pre-fuel and the Pharmaton had been provided by the Kerry nutritionist and he was taking he had taken Vitamin C, Krill Oil and Magnesium on his own account.
The following factors were taken into account in favour of the player by the GAA Anti-Doping Hearing Committee; the he did not intend to take a prohibited substance, that there was confusion as to the level of education provided by the Kerry county Board, the fact that it was his first year as a senior county player, the fact that he had carried out a reasonable internet search which did not disclose any prohibited substance and that O'Sullivan had admitted his offence and engaged with Sport Ireland.
The negative factors in the case were that O'Sullivan was a 'highly educated, intelligent and mature man' and even if he didn't know the details of anti-doping rules, he was aware of their existence, he was aware that he had an obligation to check nutrients that were not provided or cleared by the county board, he was someone who was used to taking nutrients prior to joining the Kerry panel, he chose to act on the recommendation of a casual friend 'with no purported expertise', he did not heed the warning on the container that it was mandatory to consult with a physician before using the product, he did not check with the Kerry nutritionist, he did not seek the advice of his own GP who he has seen 2 weeks before the test or with the Kerry team doctor.
The Appeal panel felt that 'slightly too much weight' had been given to the negative factors and 'not quite enough' weight had been given to the positive factors and that's why O'Sullivan's 26-week ban was reduced to 21 weeks.
A statement issued on behalf of the GAA and Sport Ireland today read: "Mr. O'Sullivan, a player with the Kerry Senior Football team, has received a period of ineligibility of 21 weeks for testing positive for methylhexaneamine ("MHA"). Mr. O'Sullivan was tested on the 24th April 2016 after playing as a substitute for Kerry in the National League Final.
"He admitted that he had committed an anti-doping rule violation and engaged in a consultation process with Sport Ireland under the Irish Anti-Doping Rules regarding the sanction to be imposed on him.
"Mr. O'Sullivan explained that he took a supplement called Falcon Labs Oxyburn Pro Superthermotech. He asserted that it was a contaminated product as defined in the Irish Anti-Doing Rules because MHA was not disclosed on the label or in a reasonable internet search which he asserted he had carried out before taking the product.
"After analysis by Sport Ireland, carried out at the WADA-accredited laboratory in Cologne, of tablets left over from the original tub which Mr. O'Sullivan purchased and analysis of tablets from an unopened tub of the same product and consideration of sworn testimony from Mr. O'Sullivan regarding the internet search he had carried out, Sport Ireland accepted that it was a contaminated product case, that Mr. O'Sullivan bore no significant fault or negligence and specified a sanction of 7 months which it considered appropriate.
"Mr. O'Sullivan declined to accept the specified sanction and on 5th January 2017 the matter was referred to the GAA Anti-Doping Hearings Committee. The hearing of the GAA Anti-Doping Hearings Committee took place on 14th February 2017 and a written decision was delivered on 27th February 2017. The GAA Anti-Doping Hearings Committee imposed a sanction of 26 weeks.
"On 16th March 2017 Mr O'Sullivan indicated he wished to appeal that decision to the Irish Sport Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel. The hearing of the Irish Sport Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel took place on 30th March 2017. On 7th April 2017, the Irish Sport Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel advised the parties that it had determined that the sanction should be reduced from 26 week to 21 weeks. It indicated that a written reasoned decision would be provided as soon as reasonably possible. That reasoned decision was received earlier today.
"Mr. O'Sullivan was provisionally suspended from the 13th of May 2016 to the 28th of July 2016, a period of 11 weeks at which time his provisional suspension was lifted by the Chair of the Irish Sport Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel under Article 7.8.3 because the violation was likely to have involved a contaminated product and the remaining 10 weeks of ineligibility was deemed by the Irish Sport Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel to have commenced on the 26th February 2017, the date of his last participation in the Kerry panel.
"The hearings were held under Article 8 (Disciplinary Process) and Article 13 (Appeals) of the Irish Anti-Doping Rules and this announcement is made pursuant to Article 15 (Public Disclosure) of the Rules."