Anti-doping: Irish athletes returned three positive samples in 2020
Despite Covid-19 restrictions, 1,045 tests were carried out across 27 different sports
Dr Una May: “We feel we don’t have a systemic problem in Ireland with doping.” File photograph: Inpho
Sport Ireland has published its Anti-Doping Review for 2020, providing comprehensive details of the activities of the Irish Anti-Doping programme throughout the year.
Despite the restrictions in place due to Covid-19, 1,045 tests were carried out across 27 different sports as part of the testing programme. In-competition samples accounted for only 17 per cent, with out-of-competition samples making up 83 per cent of the national testing programme.
Cycling Ireland were the sport tested most with 191 samples taken last year. The GAA and rugby were next with 138 and 114 tests respectively with Athletics Ireland and rowing the only other two Irish sports that tested more than 100 athletes.
Irish athletes returned just three positive samples - in GAA for hormone and metabolic modulators, with Triathlon and weightlifting athletes testing positive for anabolic agents. All three received four year suspensions.
That number is down by one from 2019, where four athletes across four different sports had positive tests for banned substances. In all testing cost €1,904,381.61, which included salaries, education and other costs.
There were 18 Therapeutic Use (TU) exemptions approved by Sport Ireland. TU are athletes who have to take particular medication that is on the banned list but are permitted to do so with medical consent.
“While it is always regrettable when any individual commits an anti-doping violation, the numbers do demonstrate that the system is working,” said the anti-doping review.
“In total, 6,544 athletes and athlete support personnel were educated via face-to-face seminars (prior to the onset of the pandemic), online education sessions or via the Sport Ireland Anti-Doping e-learning site. This total is an increase on 2019 figures (6,445 ) notwithstanding the Covid-19 restrictions, which is remarkable.”
Under the user pays scheme, where governing bodies pay for additional blood and urine tests to be conducted rugby was by far the biggest contributor. Between the Six Nations, World Rugby and the IRFU 94 additional tests were conducted from a total of 118 across other sports in the scheme.
Director of Participation and Ethics, Dr Una May said that she had not noticed any type of patterns emerging in Ireland in terms of sports or individuals concerned.
“I would say no real patterns. We feel we don’t have a systemic problem in Ireland with doping,” she said.