Anthony Nash says players need drug education
Cork goalkeeper fears implications of positive tests after inadvertent use
Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash says GAA players need drug education. Photograph: Inpho
Anthony Nash compares it to that moment when you walk through airport security, knowing full well you’ve nothing to hide, yet still can’t help but wonder if anything illicit might show up.
Because drug testing in the GAA now comes with the territory, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t also create some moments of inconvenient dread, Nash says.
The Cork hurling goalkeeper was giving his thoughts on the news that a GAA player is being investigated for a positive drugs test, and also plans by the Irish Sports Council to introduce blood testing – along with urine analysis – as part of the anti-doping programme within the association.
“I honest to God haven’t seen it,” says Nash, “and I don’t think it (doping) is an issue in the GAA. But it is like walking through an airport, and thinking, ‘What have I got in my bag?’ Even when you know you have nothing in your bag. You are nervous. That’s just human nature.
“Some fella might make a mistake and pick up the wrong tablets. You can take Panadol but you can’t take Panadol Extra, things like that. I think the best thing you can do, as a panel, is be educated on it and hope that it doesn’t happen in your own panel.”
As in any sport, however, the individual is ultimately responsible for what shows up in the tests, whether that substance is consumed inadvertently or not.
Nash has been drug tested twice, both out-of-competition tests at Cork training: “Sometimes guys can be called up after games when they are dehydrated and you hear stories of fellas having to stay inside for two or three hours. I was actually at training so I was fine. They gave us warning as we were coming in, so I just kept drinking during training and afterwards.”
However, Nash is unsure what sort of additional inconvenience might arise with the introduction of blood testing later in the year.
“I don’t know about it yet, what we’ve to do, whether it’s training, on-season, off-season.
The only previous doping case within the GAA was 10 years ago when Kerry footballer Aidan O’Mahony tested positive for Salbutamol, the active ingredient in Ventolin inhalers. Because he had a therapeutic use exemption, O’Mahony escaped with a warning.
Nash also fears that even an inadvertent positive test such as that comes with major implications: “If an incident happens where a player makes a mistake then, okay, not only is it his reputation as a GAA player, but his wider reputation, and that is something I don’t want to see.
“My family are the people that I would worry about. And I don’t care if it is a player I was playing with or against. I just think once players are educated that is the most important thing.
“As long as the GPA and GAA let us know if there is anything out there, that can help us, then I am happy enough.”