€2m drug programmenets one positive

Brendan O’Brien Almost €2m spent, well over 1,000 tests carried out on blood and urine samples across 28 sports and, at the end of it all, the one failed doping case in Irish sport in 2018 was that of a boxer who came up positive for a byproduct of cannabis.

€2m drug programmenets one positive

Almost €2m spent, well over 1,000 tests carried out on blood and urine samples across 28 sports and, at the end of it all, the one failed doping case in Irish sport in 2018 was that of a boxer who came up positive for a byproduct of cannabis.

Nothing to see here, then?

Those figures could be read thus: Either Irish sport is squeaky clean when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs, or the programme here — hailed as one of the most rigorous in the world — still isn’t enough to catch the bad guys.

“If we had three positive tests, I would be more worried,” said Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy. “A lot more worried. The education piece that we have done a lot more with is really paying dividends. E-learning is up, we have seen double the numbers on that. Really important.

“Basically, what we are trying to take out of the equation here is that nobody can claim that they don’t know anything about anti-doping. That is paying dividends.

“You never know what to expect in any given year. You never know when you will get the phone call. That’s what anti-doping is about. We can never become complacent in this space. We always need to be vigilant. Ireland needs to have a system that we can be proud of and one that other nations’ athletes know that, if there is Irish athletes competing, then they are clean.”

Yesterday saw the publication of the 19th annual anti-doping review by Sport Ireland. It recorded a 12% increase on the number of tests carried out in 2017, or 1,112 in all, at an exact cost of €1,985,726.57.

Evan Metcalfe was the athlete with the only adverse finding in 2018, the bantamweight having already been stripped of his national title and serving his four-month suspension following an in-competition test after the National Elite finals 14 months ago.

Other points of note from the latest report is the sharp drop in application for therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) from 81 to 58 and the drop in those approved from 27 to 24. Here again, education is being prioritised by Sport Ireland.

As for the wider picture, rugby is now the second most tested sport in this jurisdiction, with 178 recorded in 2018, only one fewer than cycling and 14 ahead of athletics. GAA players were tested 139 times, the only other sport to break the hundred barrier.

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