Dr Una May: GAA blood fears have been dealt with

Ireland’s top anti-doping official, Dr Una May, believes that reservations among the GAA fraternity over the introduction of blood testing have been dealt with.

Director of ethics and participation for Sport Ireland, Dr May opted against confirming when exactly the new testing would begin in 2016, but did reveal that it would likely kick off amid the more relaxed surroundings of training sessions.

Some elements of the GAA have long been uncomfortable with the fact their inter-county players have had to make themselves available for anti-doping testing and the addition of blood testing to the urine-based system in place was similarly contentious.

Sport Ireland have taken steps to counter that by educating players, talking to team doctors and establishing a new tutor training programme and Dr May insisted blood testing is straightforward and will be better for the players themselves.

“There is always apprehension when you bring in new things and there were mixed messages in terms of the blood. First, they thought the blood testing was replacing urine and they were delighted with that, but they heard that urine testing would remain and there was a bit of concern.

“From our point of view, there was nothing to fear from the blood and we are happy they have embraced it now.”

Sport Ireland also conducted 13 tests on UFC mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters at the request of the US Anti-Doping Agency in 2015, even though MMA is not officially recognised by the Irish body.

Chief executive John Treacy has declared that the door is open in that regard though the road is a long one.

Treacy explained that MMA would have to formally establish a corporate body with formal rules and regulations in Ireland in order to seek recognition and funding. The process takes three years.

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