Sport Ireland (SI) anti-doping chief Dr Una May has taken issue with a number of claims made by Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice in relation to Brendan O’Sullivan’s case.
On Monday, Fitzmaurice called for an investigation into how news of O’Sullivan’s failed drugs test was leaked to a national newspaper.
He also claimed O’Sullivan received a phonecall from SI informing him that he had been suspended for four years, while he also defended Kerry’s role in the process.
SI director of participation and ethics May insisted there was no leak from her institution and suggested that such talk diverted focus away from the fact O’Sullivan incurred a positive test.
“It does seem that a lot of attention is being drawn to the leak whereas the issue here is much greater than a leak. The issue is athletes continue to take supplements without due care and attention and protecting themselves and that’s a big concern for us,” she said.
“The fact that athletes feel they must take supplements and they disregard the guidance and information that they receive around that is a much greater concern for us. That will be an ongoing concern for us as long as the supplement market is as strong as it is.
“We give athletes and players so many guidelines. Often the name of a product we like to think would be enough to tell a person that this isn’t a basic, legitimate, simple one-ingredient product. People have speculated themselves about the name of the product (Falcon Labs Oxyburn Pro Superthermotech).
“There’s a level of responsibility an athlete must take no matter what level they compete at and that’s what the case should be about. Not a leak or a delay but the importance of athletes learning they need to be careful.”
May said she has no reason to conduct an inquiry in her department about a leak.
“Of course, it’s not in our interests to leak any information as everyone who tried hard to get information out of us at the time would know. We weren’t in the business of leaking information. There’s no point in trying for us to even discuss a leak from our point of view because clearly, it wouldn’t come from us. If it was going to come from us it was going to come from us a lot sooner.
“We don’t leak information. The process is highly important to us. The case cost us a very significant amount of money and we would have followed this case already as we would every case with the highest possible level of integrity to make sure the athlete was given every possible opportunity to have a fair hearing.
“That’s clearly what happened because, if we weren’t offering him that, the case wouldn’t have lasted as long. The integrity of any case is critical and while we get frustrated that it takes a long time we will continue to maintain the integrity of the case right through until the final outcome is published.”
May also rubbished Fitzmaurice’s claim that SI informed O’Sullivan over a phonecall that he had picked up a four-year suspension.
“To say that we would ring him to say he had a four-year ban — why would we? In all these years, we have never had a supplement case that would lead to a four-year ban. Until you hear an athlete’s story, you can’t possibly say it’s going to be a four-year ban. That’s clearly inaccurate and incorrect. Anybody who knows about anti-doping would know that would not be the case. It’s frustrating when there is misinformation put out there but it’s not in our interest or anybody else’s interests to drag the situation any longer.”
Regarding the length of the case, May said that a lot of that was down to the GAA on behalf of O’Sullivan pursuing “every possible legal angle”. “There is one reason why a case takes so long and that’s when somebody is legally challenging a case. Every possible aspect of the case is examined in minute detail and every letter that goes from one party to another has to be responded to.
“Then another response and another response but it’s in the athlete’s control. He was offered opportunities along the way to speed it up.
“It took a while for us to be provided with the sample in order to have it analysed. It then took another month because we got a signed, witnessed statement from him about the process of which he followed through to check his medication.”
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