Sport Ireland has published its nineteenth annual Anti-Doping review, which provides a full and detailed account of anti-doping activities across 2018.
There is a strong emphasis in this year’s report on education programmes and communication as a means of supporting the growing global push from athletes for clean sport.
The launch event in Dublin was held in collaboration with the Team Ireland Athletes’ Committee, which was hosting Chair of WADA’s Athlete Committee and athlete voice advocate Beckie Scott.
Last year, through the national testing programme Sport Ireland conducted 1,112 tests. This included 337 blood tests and 775 urine tests, marking a 12% increase on 2017.
Sport Ireland also conducted an additional 232 ‘user pays’ tests on behalf of 12 national and international organisations.
2018 was a particularly difficult year for anti-doping globally,” said Minister for Tourism, Transport and Sport, Shane Ross.
“I was delighted to represent Ireland at the White House last year where top athletes, anti-doping organisations and governments united and agreed that the anti-doping community should lead a collaborative worldwide movement for doping-free sport.”
“In this regard, Sport Ireland has been working diligently and with great professionalism with their international colleagues to ensure that the interests of clean athletes globally are protected.”
“Domestically, Sport Ireland continues to operate a robust testing programme, supported by a strong education programme which is equally as important. Clean athletes want and deserve a fair sporting landscape – we must constantly strive to deliver this.”
Sport Ireland’s education programme continued to develop in 2018, with a 130% increase in the number of participants in face-to-face education sessions.
Over 3,000 participant’s completed Sport Ireland’s anti-doping e-learning course, and Sport Ireland now has 83 active anti-doping tutors across 17 National Governing Bodies.
“The continued success of our national anti-doping programme is due to the continued co-operation of our athletes and National Governing Bodies,” said Caroline Murphy, Chair of Sport Ireland’s Anti-Doping Committee.
“Through the NGBs, our extensive education programme continues to grow, ensuring all athletes are fully aware of the risks and consequences associated with doping in Sport.”
“Our athletes, of all levels, continue to represent Ireland and themselves with great honesty and integrity and I thank them for their continued cooperation.”
Speaking about the international landscape, Sport Ireland Chief Executive, John Treacy, said: “The reinstatement of Russia by WADA was a watershed moment in sport where the validity of the current global anti-doping system came under intense scrutiny.”
“One positive aspect that has emerged from the fall out of the decision to reinstate Russia is the unification of athletes expressing their dismay at the decision and the global movement to elevate the athlete voice in the anti-doping system. Sport Ireland feels very strongly in the current climate that now more than ever the athlete’s voice is needed.”
“I am delighted that Beckie Scott is here today at the invitation of the Olympic Federation of Ireland Athletes’ Commission. Beckie has been a leading light for the athlete voice for some time and I would like to personally thank her for her advocacy in this area.”
Continuing the focus on the voice of the athlete, Sport Ireland Director of Participation & Ethics, Dr Una May, added: “In Sport Ireland, we are taking a proactive approach to ensure the voice of the athletes is heard and listened to. In that regard, as part of European Commission Erasmus plus project, Sport Ireland is leading a piece of research in Ireland into the voice of the clean athlete. We are delighted to collaborate with the OFI’s Athletes’ Commission and look forward to supporting them in their work to elevate the athlete’s voice.”
There was a strong panel discussion afterwards where Beckie Scott outlined her story of a life in sport and what motivated her to become so involved in the anti-doping fight.
Shane O’Connor, Chair of the Olympic Federation of Ireland Athlete’s Commission, spoke of the fact that “If It’s aspirational that’s not good enough. We have to get past the point of ‘wouldn’t that be good.'”
Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe, currently ranked 3rd in the world for Modern Pentathlon, Jenny Egan bidding for European and World Championship success this summer and David Gillick also spoke from personal experience of why it was so important to feel as though sport is clean and that everyone is competing on the same basis.
Image Credits: Bryan Keane, Inpho.ie