Sport Ireland cannot carry out anti-doping in schools rugby

Lack of national governing body precludes setting up a programme in the short term

The  National Governing Body and High Performance Funding of Sport Ireland. ‘It’s a complex area when it comes to going into a school and to underage athletes.’ Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

The National Governing Body and High Performance Funding of Sport Ireland. ‘It’s a complex area when it comes to going into a school and to underage athletes.’ Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Sport Ireland insists it is not in a position to carry out anti-doping within schools rugby, even if it wanted to.

Although now considering it a “high risk area”, the issue is that the IRFU does not govern Irish schools rugby, nor does it sanction the testing of underage players.

“The bottom line here is, for us to operate an anti-doping programme, there has to be a governing authority, and that’s an NGB [national governing body],” says Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy.

“And if there is a positive case, they need the authority to pursue the case. You can’t go into an organisation if you haven’t got a national governing body that has the rules in place.

“So I think the IRFU [has] been making the case that schools rugby is independent of themselves, and that’s a governance issue, and that’s maybe something that we would hope the IRFU can look at.”

Parental consent

Una May

“We’ve always considered it and we’ll continue to consider it,” said Dr May, “and when the time is right and if the situation is appropriate then we can foresee it happening at some point in the future. But I can’t foresee it in the short term.

“I suppose that talk has been going on for a long time. It is a high-risk area, and as I said if circumstances were right, then we would consider doing the testing in schools.

“But it’s a complex area when it comes to going into a school and to underage athletes. We do sometimes test underage athletes, but normally when they’re part of the adult environment.

“In this case, it would involve targeting underage groups. So there are a lot of different issues and elements but as John said, the key is the governance has to be there before we do tests. If we carried out tests, and depending on the outcome of tests, it could go nowhere, and there’s no point in that. And we’d be looking at under-18, because there’s an argument about the law says under-16. But we’d be looking at under-18.”

Winter Olympics

International Olympic Committee

“We, I suppose naively, welcomed the IOC decision in December, which was to ban Russia from competing. And really all that was only a name change. Over 160 Russian athletes are competing, so they scratched the name out, put another name in, and that’s really what it is.

“We didn’t see any punishment in Rio, and we’re not seeing any punishment now, so it’s more of the same. If the politicians are making decisions around anti-doping, it’s bad for sport, and that’s the issue around Wada, and Wada’s governance.”

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