Friday 21 September 2018

Players face blood testing in new year

Feargal McGill, the GAA's Head of Games Administration and Player Welfare. Photo: Sportsfile
Feargal McGill, the GAA's Head of Games Administration and Player Welfare. Photo: Sportsfile

GAA players will be subject to blood testing from January 1 as part of the 2016 anti-doping programme which is being rolled out by Sport Ireland.

Feargal McGill, the GAA's Head of Games Administration and Player Welfare, explained: "Sport Ireland would like to have introduced it for 2015 but we felt we needed the additional time to educate players particularly and also team doctors about what would be involved".

He added that the move was unrelated to the case of Monaghan footballer, Thomas Connolly, who was suspended for two years in June after admittedly taking stanozolol, an anabolic steroid prohibited under the WADA code.

Players could still be asked for urine samples, but with the added provision for blood testing or, at the discretion of the testers, both.


Speaking on the subject yesterday, Bernard Brogan said he would be "very surprised," if a doping problem existed in Gaelic games and expressed his belief that was blood testing is "a bit aggressive".

"In other sports you'd see there's millions of quid on the line and cheating means so much," the Dublin forward points out.

"But I don't know what drugs there are out there but I'm sure they're very expensive to be ... whatever there is that you'd be testing for in blood samples. I'm sure they're not easy to get your hands on and I'm sure they're not cheap if they're able to cheat the system.

"So do people go to those measures in a sport that isn't paying you anything? I'd be very surprised but if that's what needs to be done, that's what needs to be done."

McGill stressed that the GAA were "pretty happy that our games are still being played on a level playing field".

Though he added: "The case this year, it reinforced the need to educate.

"There are two fears. One is that players will deliberately dope and deliberately cheat. And the second fear is that they'll do it accidentally.

"They are the two big fears. We have redoubled our efforts on education to make sure no one accidentally cheats.

"A by product of that is when you are trying to do that you are also subliminally telling people the consequences of cheating deliberately.

"I don't think it has changed much. I don't think there's a doping culture within the GAA.

"I'm not even sure of the benefits of a lot of doping products to Gaelic games because of the nature of the games.

"There would be some benefits obviously but in terms of bulk and that which is where a lot of doping leads to. "

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