Welcome Agreement Reached on GAA Anti-Doping

Money for inter-county GAA players, paid through Sport Ireland as part of the state grants scheme will start to land this week after a row over anti-doping procedures was ironed out.

It brings to an end a period of dispute which got caught up with amateur status, data privacy and a perfect storm of grievance.

The right conclusion has been arrived at though where players who are on an inter-county panel have to complete either an e-learning or a physical education course in anti-doping and make their address available for potential use in out of competition testing.

The requirements are no different from other athletes across the sporting spectrum.

Players had argued that because they were amateurs they should not have to follow the same procedures but Sport Ireland stuck to their guns and have secured an important win for the concept of anti-doping being treated with the respect and seriousness it deserves.

Of course, there are serious time challenges for those training at the elite end of sport and holding down careers at the same time, but the introduction of e-learning cuts out the travel time associated with attendance at a physical session and allows the players to complete the course, which is their own interests, at a time to suit.

We live in an era where faith in ‘clean sport’ is at an all-time low with the state-sponsored programmes undertaken by Russia, and questions over those at the very top of sports including cycling casting a shadow over the belief we have in those in whom we invest our hopes, time and money as fans.

For Gaelic Players to risk being cast in a shadow of unwillingness to adhere to practices around anti-doping, regardless of the reason behind that non-adherence would have been a step backwards in terms of the high regard they are held within communities.

The joint announcement on Friday that this would no longer be the case and that agreement had been reached between Sport Ireland, the GAA and the Gaelic Players Association in relation to testing procedures and education is a good result all round.

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