Three-quarters of GAA players never tested for drugs

Only 7 per cent of players aged 18-21 years ever tested, ERSI study finds

The report also found that 92 per cent of GAA players had   taken supplements. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

The report also found that 92 per cent of GAA players had taken supplements. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Less than one in four GAA players (23 per cent) have been tested for doping during their inter-county career – meaning over three-quarters of the playing population are going untested.

According to the data obtained from the 2016 players surveyed for the latest part of the ERSI research, “Safeguarding amateur athletes: an examination of player welfare among senior inter-county Gaelic players”, the probability of ever being tested also increased with age, with older players having a greater likelihood of having been drugs tested.

While only 7 per cent of players aged 18-21 years were ever tested, 35 per cent of players aged 31 and above had been tested. Division 1 footballers (34 per cent) and MacCarthy Cup hurlers (39 per cent) were also more likely to have been tested than players in the other playing levels.

The report also found that 92 per cent of GAA players had ever taken supplements; footballers (97 per cent) were more likely to have taken supplements than hurlers (88 per cent). 

Supplement use

The high use across all football divisions would suggest that drug testing should not be confined to top-tier players, if this is current doping testing policy with regard to Gaelic games players, according to the report.

There were notable differences in supplement use in the 2016 season across playing levels. For football, supplement use was common across all divisions in 2016, with over 80 per cent of players across each division taking supplements during this season. Division 4 footballers had the lowest supplement use (81 per cent) and Divisions 3 and 1 the highest (92 and 90 per cent respectively). 

There were large differences across hurling competitions. Only 49 per cent of Lory Meagher players took supplements in 2016; 84 per cent of MacCarthy Cup players took supplements during this season.

Just over a fifth (21 per cent) of players were very satisfied with the information provided to them about anti-doping and compliance, with just over a third (38 per cent) somewhat satisfied. However, 13 and five per cent respectively were somewhat or very dissatisfied with the information provided on this issue.

Contamination

Recommendation by the team was the most common reason given by players for taking supplements. However, the research also revealed that many players sourced their supplements from outside of the inter-county set-up, thus opening the risk to potential contamination from supplements from unapproved sources.

The research also found that while teams recommended supplement use, just over half of players stated that supplement intake was monitored within their county set up.

Almost all players indicated that they saw anti-doping testing and compliance as important to protecting the integrity of Gaelic games. However, many players were not satisfied with the information provided about anti-doping testing and compliance.

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