Michael Murphy calls for more drug testing in the GAA
Donegal star dismisses suggestions that supplements are being widely abused
Michael Murphy at Croke Park where the GAA and GPA announced a new partnership with Pat the Baker. Photograph: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Potentially marginal gains aside, Michael Murphy has dismissed the suggestion supplements are widely used or indeed abused in the GAA, but believes players could be dope tested more regularly, or “whatever it takes to keep the thing clean”.
Murphy’s own supplement use, he insisted, didn’t extend beyond a protein shake, nor does he suspect anyone on the Donegal football team to be taking anything beyond that either.
He was surprised at Kerry footballer Brendan O’Sullivan’s list of eight supplements, declared as part of his doping test last year which returned a positive violation for the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine (MHA).
“We’re all very aware of what we can and cannot take, and the responsibility has to be on the player, in terms of what he’s putting into his own system,” says Murphy. “Any individual in life, whatever you’re putting into yourself, you have to take responsibility for what you’re doing. We’re well rehearsed on that.
“Speaking for myself, what I tend to use and don’t use, we’ve a nutritionist in with us at the moment, he’s very good, puts the whole emphasis back on diet, eating well. I try to keep it to a balanced diet, and for me a protein shake after a gym session is about the height of it.
“They [supplements] certainly have come into the game, since we were in college, over the last five or six years. Things like going to the gym and having your protein shake after. But the only thing I take now, after the two gym sessions, is whey protein, from Kinetica. I’m told that’s batch tested, and that’s okay.
O’Sullivan, who served a reduced ban of just 21 weeks following his positive test, blamed a caffeine fat-burning supplement Oxyburn Pro Superthermotech, which the player had taken without seeking any advice from the Kerry medical team. Murphy reckons that’s no excuse.
“I know if I even have a cold, I’m straight on to the team doctor, asking about it. And rightly so. You have that responsibility, so you must figure out if it’s right or wrong.”
Speaking in Croke Park at the announcement of the GAA’s new partnership with Pat the Baker Protein Bread, essentially designed to help further supplement the diet, Murphy also reckons eight or nine different supplements sounds “substantial” compared to what most players take.
“I didn’t see the exact list (that O’Sullivan was taking), but speaking for the teams I’ve been involved in, I don’t think it’s as substantial as eight or nine. It is conversation around a table at the moment, chatting with lads at dinner after a training session. It’s under the spotlight, and you’re saying to yourself, ‘is that protein supplement all right?’ But again, speaking for ourselves, it’s not a list of eight or nine.”
The Donegal team, he says, don’t use caffeine, which is in fact a stimulant, not a supplement: “No. I’ve heard of caffeine all right now. For me, looking in, whatever works for individuals, and if it’s all above board, by all means.”
And should there be more testing to ensure it all above board?
“Yeah anything to keep it right above board, because once it does start, if it did start, where does it end? So to keep the thing right, and if we’re tested every week, by all means. Whatever it takes to keeps the thing clean.
“Something like that does bring awareness, but I haven’t seen anything like that with the teams I’ve been involved in, both in Donegal, provincial level, even with Ireland teams. I haven’t seen a culture of it yet.
“I suppose there is fear out there, but any time there is one [a positive test] it seems to be misfortune, lack of awareness. I don’t think there is any intention there. And that’s the unfortunate thing, when a player’s name is brought through it like that. But we need to take responsibility, as individuals, a team, or group, if we expect everyone else to.”