‘No hood-winking’ of doping checks

Irish sports chiefs have insisted that athletes are not hood-winking "relentless" anti-doping checks, despite concerns the nation’s detection rate is behind international levels.

The Irish Sports Council made the claim after it emerged just three positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs occurred last year out of 868 checks.

Speaking at the Dáil public accounts committee, ISC chief executive John Treacy said the body’s anti-doping systems are “relentless”.

PAC member and Labour TD Joe Costello said the three positive results — involving Young Munster rugby player John Moroney, shot putter Tomas Rauktys, and boxer Sean Turner, who was found positive for not attending three tests — was a “low figure” out of 868.

Suggesting the “level of result from the testing is not near” other countries, he said authorities are either being hood-winked, or Irish athletes are among the most “ethical” in the world.

However, Mr Treacy said as Ireland is “a small country” it is “more difficult” for cheats “to hide”. He added that 431 last year were “out of competition”, including 192 blood tests, up 44% from 2012.

The ISC — which provides over €34m in taxpayers’ money to top-level athletes and sports organisations, including a combined €8m to the FAI, IRFU and GAA, every year — told the PAC it is proud of its “high-performance” record.

Citing the recent return of five medals from the London 2012 Olympics among other successes, Mr Treacy said the results show Ireland “continues to excel” on the world stage and is getting good value from the supports.

However, previous Irish Examiner = research shows this Olympic haul came at a €6m public price per medal and that funding is being spread to thinly and sometimes in the wrong areas.

Meanwhile, the PAC yesterday became the latest group to criticise FAI chief executive John Delaney’s €360,000 salary.

However, while Labour TD Robert Dowds said the rate was an “inordinate sum”, Mr Treacy said that, as the ISC is “not providing funding” for the role, it cannot intervene.

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