Thursday 12 December 2019

'If it's not a resigning matter then what does it say about their anti-doping policy?' - Paul Kimmage on IRFU response

IRFU chief executive Philip Browne (left) and Sunday Independent journalist Paul Kimmage (right).
IRFU chief executive Philip Browne (left) and Sunday Independent journalist Paul Kimmage (right).

Paul Kimmage has said that the controversy surrounding Munster's signing of convicted doper Gerbrandt Grobler is a 'resigning matter' for IRFU chief executive Philip Browne.

The IRFU sanctioned the deal for the South African second row to join the southern province last summer, with a debate emerging in the last week of whether Irish rugby should welcome someone who has previously served a drugs ban.

Grobler tested positive for an anabolic steroid as a 22-year-old in South Africa, and is set to make his competitive Munster debut after an injury-hit start to the season.

Browne addressed the media earlier today and said that the IRFU will now 'consider how we would deal with something similar in the future', although he had previously said in a 2016/17 report that the union has a 'zero-tolerance policy to cheating within rugby'.

Speaking on The Last Word with Matt Cooper this evening on Today FM, Sunday Independent journalist Paul Kimmage took the IRFU and Browne to task over the response.

"They [the IRFU] posted their policy on their website: 'The IRFU has a zero-tolerance policy to cheating. Our message is clear - if you are doping, there is no place for you in rugby.'," Kimmage said.

"So today, at last, we get a response from Philip Browne and the IRFU and you expect that as a result of that flagrant breach of their own policy, that Philip Browne is going to come out and say 'I messed up here folks, and as a result I am going to resign'."

Cooper then asked Kimmage whether he felt the issue was a 'resigning matter' for Browne.

"I absolutely do," Kimmage answered.

"If it is not a resigning matter then what does it say about their anti-doping policy? How seriously am I to take to take their promotional ads? I'll give you an example of one, the famous Aldi one where the kid is reciting the great Paul O'Connell speech and he arrives at the dressing room and Paul takes the ball off him and says 'I'll take it from here, kid'.

"The message there is clear. You send us your kids and we will take care of them. A key part of that is that we are not going to send them out against behemoths who are juiced to the gills. We are going to do our best to protect your kid in a clean sport and in a safe way and that is why we are asking you to send us your kids.

"If you can't do that, and a fundamental part of that is an anti-doping policy, if you can't guarantee parents that you won't be sending out kids against juicers and people playing the game at a weight far heavier than they should be if they are clean, then I'm sorry, but that is a resigning matter for me."

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