'Rugby players silent on painkillers are cowards'
Paul Kimmage has hit out at professional rugby players who remain silent on the issue of cortisone injections and other painkillers, describing them as "cowards".
The Sunday Independent journalist questioned the "moral courage" of players who don't raise concerns about injections in the sport - something he feels is performance enhancing.
He also responded to comments made by former Irish rugby captain Paul O'Connell, in which the retired second row appeared to criticise Mr Kimmage's view on using legal injections.
"If Paul O'Connell has a headache, by all means Paul, take a paracetamol. The point I made, and what I'm totally against, rugby players are taking paracetamol and taking painkillers not because they have a headache. They are using it in anticipation of the pain.
"In anyone's language, that is performance enhancing. That is using a drug to enhance your performance," he told Matt Cooper on 'The Last Word'.
"He [O'Connell] and all the other players who play the game have a responsibility to the game and to all of the kids who are coming after them, to voice concerns about the issues now that are affecting the health of players. There is a real serious debate to be had on those issues.
"Rugby is a game with fantastic physical courage but like cycling it is played by guys with no moral courage at all.
"They are actually cowards. Until one player stands up - there was one, Laurent Benezech, who stood up and said this game has serious problems and he was hammered for it. The Omerta in rugby is every bit as bad as it was in cycling."
The topic came under the spotlight last week when it was discovered that Racing 92 players Dan Carter, Joe Rokocoko and Juan Imhoff had traces of cortisone in their urine samples taken after their win in the Top 14 final last season.
The club has since claimed that the injections were used to treat injuries and that there is nothing untoward about them, but the results have led to debate on the use of injections.
The IRFU did not respond to requests for a comment in relation to Mr Kimmage's comments when contacted by the Irish Independent yesterday.