Thursday 18 January 2018

Jamie Heaslip: I don't believe there's a doping problem in rugby

26 September 2015; Ireland's Jamie Heaslip speaks to the media during the pre-match press conference. Ireland Rugby Press Conference, 2015 Rugby World Cup, Wembley Stadium, Wembley, London, England. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
26 September 2015; Ireland's Jamie Heaslip speaks to the media during the pre-match press conference. Ireland Rugby Press Conference, 2015 Rugby World Cup, Wembley Stadium, Wembley, London, England. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
26 September 2015; Ireland's Jamie Heaslip and assistant coach Les Kiss speaking to the media during the pre-match press conference. Ireland Rugby Press Conference, 2015 Rugby World Cup, Wembley Stadium, Wembley, London, England. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Ruaidhri O’Connor at Wembley

Ireland wore striking pink anti-doping t-shirts during their Captain’s Run press conference yesterday and afterwards stand-in captain Jamie Heaslip said he was happy with what the authorities are doing with regard to performance enhancing drugs.

The Leinster No8 said he has been tested multiple times in the last three months and outlined how he has to give advanced notice of his whereabouts on days off.

He does not believe that there is a problem in the game.

Rugby has increasingly been under a cloud with regards to doping and medicalisation since the publication of a book by former France international Laurent Benezech last year and the allegations linking three time European champions Toulon with a scandal involving local pharmacies.

26 September 2015; Ireland's Jamie Heaslip and assistant coach Les Kiss speaking to the media during the pre-match press conference. Ireland Rugby Press Conference, 2015 Rugby World Cup, Wembley Stadium, Wembley, London, England. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
26 September 2015; Ireland's Jamie Heaslip and assistant coach Les Kiss speaking to the media during the pre-match press conference. Ireland Rugby Press Conference, 2015 Rugby World Cup, Wembley Stadium, Wembley, London, England. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Their owner Mourad Boudjellal has denied those allegations, but with more and more positive tests emerging in the UK and Springbok hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle receiving a two-year ban for testing positive for an anabolic steroid there is more focus than ever on the oval ball game.

The UK Anti-Doping Agency has said there is a "very high" risk of cheating in rugby union. Of the 46 British athletes currently serving doping bans, 16 are rugby union players, UKDA figures show.

This makes rugby union the country's dirtiest sport – and of the 25 sporting professionals banned in the past year, 11 were involved in rugby.

Heaslip meanwhile argues that the sport remains in a  good place.

“I don’t think there’s a problem in the sport, the procedures in place pretty good and stringent,” Heaslip said.

“To give an example, we give an hour day of our time off to say where and when we can get tested.

“I've been tested numerous times, especially in this last quarter, the last three months, I've tested quite a bit both after games and at 6:30 in morning.

“As much as I don’t like it, it gets done, it’s part and parcel of great game, the authorities do great job keeping the game clean.”

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