Sport Ireland will "review" the James Cronin doping violation decision before deciding if sufficient grounds exist to appeal the Munster prop's one-month suspension to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) and World Rugby are both going through a similar process as they also have the right to challenge the sanction reached by Antony Davies (England), the judicial officer on the EPCR disciplinary panel.
Cronin tested positive for prednisolone, a synthetic steroid, and prednisone, a synthetic drug similar to cortisone, following Munster’s Champions Cup draw with Racing 92 at Thomond Park on November 23rd, 2019.
The IRFU and their employee have accepted a ban between April 15th to May 16th. The 29-year-old will not miss any games during this period due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cronin, who was prescribed the antibiotic Amoxicillin by Munster team doctor Jamie Kearns, took five Prednesol tablets in a single dosage the day before playing Racing 92 and four tablets in a single dosage on the morning of the game.
Cronin, it was found, bears “no significant fault or negligence” due to a “very serious mistake by a pharmacy” that gave him a banned substance meant for another client.
However, Davies’s written decision states a doping violation could have been avoided if better “safeguards” were put in place by Cronin and Dr Kearns. Also, the player “ought to have at least stopped to consider” why he was given two sets of medication instead of one. Davies also adds “a simple Google search of ‘predisolone’” would have shown that the drug is on Wada’s prohibited list.
“He bears at least some fault,” Davies concluded.
The IRFU, having completed a separate review, concluded the sanction imposed by EPCR is “sufficient in this case due to the strong mitigating circumstances.”
Sport Ireland, under the guidance of chief executive John Treacy and Dr Una May, has not put a timeline on when they will decide to pursue the case or not.
Dr John O'Driscoll is chairman of the World Rugby anti-doping advisory committee that also lists Leinster coach Dr Felipe Contepomi and former Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip as members.