Missing urine samples from GAA players that were due to form part of a drugs test will be destroyed if they are ever found, the statutory authority for sport has said.
It was revealed yesterday that Sport Ireland, formerly the Irish Sports Council, wrote to the GAA to inform it that samples taken for the purpose of drug-testing went missing after they were sent to a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) laboratory in Germany.
Sport Ireland confirmed the report in the Irish Independent and said the courier used to send the samples has commissioned an investigation into their disappearance.
If found, the samples will be destroyed, regardless of their location, and even if they were found to be delivered to the WADA lab in Germany.
“The continuation of custody of the samples is unaccounted for,” said a Sport Ireland spokesperson.
He said Sport Ireland sends some 15,000 samples via courier to the lab on an annual basis, and such situations are very rare.
The spokesperson said the organisation wrote to the GAA to inform it that the dispatched samples did not arrive at the lab, and that no results from these tests will be issued as a result.
Two sets of samples have been reported missing. The first set in question were taken from three Fermanagh footballers in 2016, and were lost by the couriers en route to the German lab.
Samples taken from members of the Westmeath hurling team last May were also sent to the Cologne-based lab, but never arrived.
The GAA has drug-tested its players in conjunction with Sport Ireland since 2001, and all GAA players are subject to the doping rules adopted by Sport Ireland as a result.
Earlier this year, Sport Ireland revealed that Kerry footballer Brendan O’Sullivan received a 21-week ban after testing positive for the stimulant methylhexaneamine.
Mr O’Sullivan provided a sample in April 2016 after he came on as a substitute for Kerry in the National League final against Dublin.
This sample failed the test, but Sport Ireland accepts that Mr O’Sullivan failed due to taking a contaminated supplement.
“Sport Ireland accepted that it was a contaminated product case, that Mr O’Sullivan bore no significant fault or negligence, and reduced the applicable sanction to seven months,” it said in a statement at the time.
In 2015, Monaghan footballer Thomas Connelly became the first player in GAA history to be banned for using performance-enhancing drugs after he tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid stanozolol. He received a two-year ban.
The GAA anti-doping committee accepted Mr Connelly’s explanation that he was unwittingly breaking the doping rules, and that he took the tablets from a colleague following complaints of pain and stiffness as a result of training. However, it found that Mr Connelly was guilty of “a high degree of negligence in consuming the tablets in question”.
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