Wednesday 21 February 2018

'Whereabouts' of counties under spotlight after missed drugs tests

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

counties have been urged to be extra attentive in keeping their 'team whereabouts' forms up to date after it was revealed that a number of inter-county squads have missed drugs tests in recent years.

Details revealed under freedom of information show that up to 15 teams over the last two years have not been where they were supposed to be according to the forms submitted to the Irish Sports Council from which testers operate.

This was due to last-minute changes to nominated training venues when waterlogged or frozen pitches dictated the switches, according to GAA head of games administration Fergal McGill.

Last year the GAA began to re-imburse testers for costs incurred in travelling to appointed venues where no training was taking place.

These costs could range from €300 to €900, but, from now on, they will be picked up by the counties and not from central funds.

There were 93 drug tests conducted by ISC officials in 2011, with roughly an even split between out-of-competition tests and match-day tests.

Counties are obliged to update their 'whereabouts' form on a regular basis, even with last-minute changes.

The GAA has had a very good record with the ISC's anti-doping programme since it signed up to it for the 2002 season.

Only one player, Kerry's Aidan O'Mahony, has failed a test, and he was later cleared when it was established that the excessive elements of Salbutamol were due to his asthmatic condition.

"In all of these cases where tests have been missed the venues have been changed because of problems with the pitches," said McGill.

"But to avoid missed tests, counties need to be attentive with their 'whereabouts' form."

Counties are never aware that testers are on their way to them and naturally, given the secrecy of the operation, check calls to determine venues cannot be made.

Irish Independent

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