Thursday 23 January 2020

'We won't apologise for protecting players' - Kerry chairman stands by decision to identify Brendan O'Sullivan Sportsdesk

Chairman of Kerry GAA Tim Murphy stood by his county board's recent decision to identify midfielder Brendan O'Sullivan after the player tested positive for methylhexaneamine after the 2016 league final defeat to Dublin.

The Sunday Independent revealed last weekend that O'Sullivan had failed a routine drugs test conducted by Sport Ireland following the final and that the results indicated a rule violation in accordance with the Irish Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel.

The Sunday Independent chose not to identify O'Sullivan as the player in the story, however, the Kerry GAA board did choose to reveal O'Sullivan as the player who had failed the test with Murphy stating that the decision to identify O'Sullivan came down to a matter of player protection.

"There's been a lot of commentary in various media outlets about the length of time, and who knew or who should have known, but I think to speculate is very wrong," Murphy told Radio Kerry on Saturday.

"I think there's a general acknowledgement that there is no such case that is really meant to go public until it has concluded, and that every athlete gets fair play and due process.

"Sport Ireland made it very clear that there is no defined time frame and that once the process starts, the length of time that it has taken wouldn't be unheard of by any means.

"From a Kerry county board perspective, our position is to protect the player, both Brendan and the other members of the panel at all times, and that's what we have done and we won't be apologising to anybody for it."

Murphy said that he was first made aware of O'Sullivan's failed test a week after he became chairman of Kerry GAA in December of last year.

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The former development officer insists that O'Sullivan should bare no significant fault for his role in the failed test, and that his reputation should not be tarnished as a result, but that the decision to name O'Sullivan was made in consultation with the player and as a reaction to the uncertainty of how the Sunday Independent were going to report the story.

"The whole sequence of events arose from a request from a Sunday Independent journalist last Friday, the 26th of May, where we got an email requesting a comment about an intercounty footballer, who was on the Kerry panel, that had failed the test," Murphy added.

"We were confronted with a difficult situation to say the least, because if we commented, we ran the risk of a story being published in national Sunday newspaper and Brendan not even being aware of it.

"Aidan O'Mahony [former Kerry footballer who tested positive for high levels of salbutamol in 2008] wrote a very good article on Thursday where he mentioned his own personal experience where the issue he had was where the story was leaked before he was even phoned and told about it, so we were not going to allow that to happen in Brendan's case.

"We sat down last Saturday and we involved Brendan in the whole process.

"He was fully briefed and fully aware of what we did and then based on that we issued the statement that we put out on Saturday evening in advance of Sunday.

"We wanted to stay in control of the situation as far as we could because it was such a sensitive one.

"We weren't in a decision to second guess what they [The Sunday Independent] were going to do and then put Brendan in a position where we as a group, and Brendan, would be reading about it on a Sunday morning as opposed to him having an opportunity to tell whatever few people he needed to tell before it actually went public. We owed the man that much."

A Sport Ireland report on Thursday revealed that O'Sullivan took a supplement called 'Falcon Labs Oxyburn Pro Superthermotech' that was found to contain the banned stimulant MHA.

The report revealed that O'Sullivan did not seek the advice of 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.

He was given an initial seven month ban by Sport Ireland but this was reduced to 21 weeks after three appeals, which was then served in two parts, with O'Sullivan serving an initial 11 weeks before unsuccessfully challenging the sanction in front of the GAA's Anti-Doping committee, and then serving the remaining 10 weeks from there.

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