Thursday 23 November 2017

Sport Ireland confirm that Kerry footballer Brendan O'Sullivan tested positive for a banned stimulant

Kerry’s Brendan O’Sullivan in action against Monaghan during last year’s league. Photo: Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile
Kerry’s Brendan O’Sullivan in action against Monaghan during last year’s league. Photo: Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile Newsdesk Newsdesk

Kerry footballer Brendan O'Sullivan received a 21-week ban for testing positive for the stimulant methylhexaneamine ("MHA"), Sport Ireland has announced.

O'Sullivan failed the drug test following the 2016 National Football League defeat to Dublin.

Methylhexaneamine is a mild stimulant that was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list in 2010.

Sport Ireland handed down a ban of seven months to O'Sullivan after deeming that the positive test was as a result of a contaminated product but he appealed this ruling to the GAA anti-doping committee.

It was reduced to six months by this body but O'Sullivan appealed once more and the Irish Sport Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel reduced the ban to 21 weeks.

He served the initial 10 weeks of his ban from May 13-July 28, 2016 before his provisional ban was lifted by the panel and served the final 11 weeks from February 26, the date of his last participation with Eamonn Fitzmaurice's squad, the defeat to Monaghan in the league, and was free to play from May 15.

The statement from Sport Ireland today read: "In response to public comment made by the Kerry County Board and in the media, Sport Ireland can confirm that the Irish Sport Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel has sanctioned Mr. Brendan O'Sullivan for the commission of an anti-doping rule violation.

"Mr. O'Sullivan, a player with the Kerry Senior Football team, received a period of ineligibility of 21 weeks for testing positive for the stimulant methylhexaneamine ("MHA").  Mr. O'Sullivan was tested on 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. Sport Ireland accepted that it was a contaminated product case, that Mr. O'Sullivan bore no significant fault or negligence and reduced the applicable sanction to 7 months.

"Mr. O'Sullivan declined to accept the specified sanction and on 5th January 2017 the matter was referred to the GAA Anti-Doping Committee.  The GAA Committee imposed a period of ineligibility of 6 months on Mr. O'Sullivan following a hearing on 13th February 2017.

"Mr. O'Sullivan subsequently appealed that decision on 16th March 2017 to the Irish Sport Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel which imposed a period of ineligibility of 21 weeks on Mr. O’Sullivan following a hearing on 30th March 2017.

"Mr. O'Sullivan was provisionally suspended from the 13th of May 2016 to the 28th of July 2016, a period of 11 weeks before his provisional suspension was lifted by the Chair of the Disciplinary Panel because the violation was likely to have involved a contaminated product. The remaining 10 weeks of ineligibility commenced on the 26th February 2017, the date of his last participation in the Kerry panel.

"The Disciplinary Panel, which is an independent panel of experts from legal, sports administration and medical backgrounds, has indicated that it will give its reasoned decision shortly and this decision will be published by Sport Ireland on receipt in line with standard practice, along with the decision of the GAA Anti-Doping Committee.

"Sport Ireland cannot comment on the detail of the decision of the independent Irish Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel until such time as that reasoned decision is received.

"Sport Ireland advises athletes there are no guarantees that any supplement is safe (free from prohibited substances). If an athlete chooses to consume a supplement Sport Ireland recommends they seek advice from a sports dietician and follow Sport Ireland’s risk minimisation guidelines."

The story of the failed drug test first came to light after a revelation in yesterday's Sunday Independent.

In 2015, Monaghan footballer Thomas Connolly was suspended for two years after testing positive for banned substance stanozolol.

He admitted taking the anabolic steroid but insisted that incorrect labelling had led to him taking the substance in error.

The GAA's anti-doping committee accepted his explanation and imposed a two-year, rather than a four-year, ban.

In 2009, Kerry star Aidan O'Mahony escaped a ban after presenting conclusive evidence that the presence of salbutamol - another banned substance - in his system arose from his use of an asthma inhaler.

The authorities accepted that it was being used for medical purposes and not in an attempt to gain any advantage.


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