Friday 15 December 2017

New iPhone app to help end drugs confusion

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

IRISH athletes afraid of accidentally failing a drugs test can now benefit from pioneering technology by the Irish Sports Council (ISC), which will ensure they no longer have any excuses.

The ISC has designed a free iPhone application that can be used while shopping for medicines to immediately identify if they comply with anti-doping rules. The ground-breaking initiative is believed to be the first of its kind anywhere in the world and it can be downloaded from the Apple iTunes store.

It was unveiled yesterday at the launch of the ISC's annual anti-doping report, which revealed that blood testing was introduced for the first time here during the last year.

The ISC carried out 65 blood tests in five sports -- athletics, swimming, rugby, cycling and paralympics. Considering that most of these were done in the autumn, those numbers are expected to double in the coming year.

Of the 914 drugs tests done in Ireland over the past year there were just three failed tests; 755 of the performed tests were part of the national anti-doping programme, while 159 'user pay' tests were commissioned by national or international federations.

All failures were relatively minor -- a Wexford soccer player for a social drug (cannabis), a little-known amateur motorsport driver for anabolic steroids, and a 'masters' athlete, who got an eight-week suspension and a reprimand for having ephedrine in her system.

The ISC have decided to more than halve the number of athletes in their registered testing pool from 230 down to 100. This indicates that they are narrowing the net and targeting athletes in specific sports ahead of the London Olympics.

There were 109 unsuccessful attempts to test individuals last year and 19 failed attempts to test teams. This indicates they weren't present when the testers arrived.

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