Doping director defends League final testing

The four players drug-tested after Sunday’s Division 1 final were granted permission by testers to watch the Laochra show that followed the game.

Dr Una May, director of the Irish Sports Council anti-doping unit, said there had been measures taken to ensure those called on to give urine samples could choose to delay going through the procedure to take in the 1916 commemoration.

Afterwards, Dublin manager Jim Gavin took umbrage at the timing of the testing.

“They are amateur players. Immediately after games, in my opinion, it’s not appropriate.

“They all want to enjoy the success and then for the other team, after losing the game, I think the last thing they need is somebody coming down to have an invasive procedure take place.”

He added: “Today, we have four players (two Dublin, two Kerry) there from the teams and Laochra was taking place outside and they were in the dungeons of the stadium, being closed off and they didn’t have access to the entertainment. It just doesn’t sit right.”

May acknowledged Gavin’s annoyance but explained provisions had been made to accommodate the players and defended the drug testing process.

“It is routine, we’ve been doing the testing for well over 10 years so there is nothing different about the testing. In 2015, we carried out 44 tests after competitions and we’ve had a similar number of tests for each of the past 10 years or so.

“I would say he (Gavin) was frustrated looking at his comments and it arose from the Laochra event and that he felt for the players that they were missing out.

“There’s always frustration and we don’t generally react if someone was making a fuss about testing because people do get frustrated.

“It’s not something we would be too concerned about.

“We can’t change that and we don’t get cross about them getting frustrated.

“But in advance of the testing, we had agreed with the GAA if the players wanted to watch the Laochra festivities they would be accommodated and they would just be supervised during the time.

“So I’m not sure in terms of the messaging around that or what arose but that was something agreed in advance. We recognised the Laochra event was something the players might want to watch and we didn’t want to have them miss that opportunity.

“We didn’t get any post-test report to say there was any issue or anything like that and when we read about a team getting frustrated with the testing we don’t tend to react too strongly because it is frustrating (for them) especially when they miss out on celebrations.”

May said players are used to testing at this stage and underlined the importance of their testers’ duties.

“We do this for the protection of the integrity of the sport.

“It’s part of what we do and it’s part of the GAA at a big match, that there is likely to be testing afterwards.

“We do sympathise but we believe what we’re doing for the sport is more important than the unfortunate situation when if a player is not in a position to give a sample quickly he does get held up.

“At the end of the day, it’s important we protect the integrity of the sport in a day and age when there are rising levels of abuse across all walks of life and we’re seeing more and more abuse of performance enhancing substances even with the gyms by the general public.

“We have to be careful and do what we can to protect the sport and the players.”

Four months after blood testing was introduced in the GAA, May said players in the main have welcomed its introduction.

“We’ve only blood tested out of competition and it’s gone down really well. It’s been received warmly.

“The first tested players decided they would be the answer to the latest pub quiz so they were more than happy! Blood testing is not replacing urine testing.”


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