Friday 23 March 2018

Treacy hits out at IOC decision to lift Russia's Olympic ban

Chief Executive of Sport Ireland John Treacy Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Chief Executive of Sport Ireland John Treacy Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Cathal Dennehy

Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy has slammed the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to lift its ban on Russia in the wake of revelations about state-sponsored doping, labelling the decision last December to ban Russia from the Winter Olympics as "fake news".

The IOC voted to ban Russia two months before the Games in Pyeongchang, but then cleared 168 athletes to compete under a neutral flag. Despite two of those athletes testing positive at the Games, the IOC then voted to lift Russia's Olympic ban.

"We're very disappointed in that," said Treacy at the launch of Sport Ireland's 2017 Anti-Doping Review. "The IOC is basically saying there's one rule for one country and another for the rest. It would appear in December they were banned and they didn't ban them. It was fake news.

"(Anti-doping) is at a critical point. We've always advocated for the IOC not to be involved in decisions around anti-doping and never was it so underlined than that decision made last week."

It was revealed that Sport Ireland conducted 989 tests last year from its anti-doping budget of €1.7m, in addition to 315 tests under the 'user pays' programme. Cycling and athletics were the most-tested sports, with 189 and 188 tests respectively, while next was rugby with 145 tests.


In the wake of the news that half of Irish athletes use supplements, Sport Ireland released a 14-page document with guidelines for use, an apparent acceptance that if they can't stop athletes using them, they can at least help them do it safely.

"They will take them regardless of our (advice) but we want to make sure that those who take them are doing it for the right reasons and with the right advice," said Dr Una May, Sport Ireland's director of participation and ethics.

Studies have shown that 10-25pc of supplements are contaminated with ingredients not listed on the label, while a 2013 study revealed at least 10pc of supplements manufactured by leading European sports brands contained traces of banned anabolic steroids.

"If you get this wrong, you could end up with a four-year ban," said May. "It can lead to someone being tarnished as a doper when in fact they made a mistake."

There were 27 Therapeutic Use Exemptions granted by Sport Ireland last year, with rugby and athletics accounting for six apiece.

Despite controversies elsewhere, May was confident Irish sportspeople are not gaming the system.

"If the TUE committee are not comfortable they will fight backwards and forwards. Our guys have stood firmly when they've considered something is not only medically inappropriate but also unethical. We're confident in our system."

Irish Independent

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