By Mark Jones
While the high-profile Irish sports continue to remain relatively clear of doping scandals, several lesser-known disciplines have already been the subject of positive tests. A total of five positive drug tests have been revealed since the Irish Sports Council began its testing program a year ago.
A weightlifter who represented Ireland at the European championships and who is in receipt of funding from the ISC, is now facing a lifetime ban from his sport after twice testing positive for steroids.
David Daly, a 27-year-old from near Tralee, Co. Kerry, was given a two-year ban when he was found to have a banned steroid in his urine sample — believed to be 19-Norandrostenedione — last November.
The test had taken place during the national club team championships in Cork, during which Daly broke the national clean-and-jerk record in the 105-kilogram class. However, 11 days after the initial test, the lifter was subjected to an out-of-competition test at his home, and this test was also found to contain a banned steroid.
A second positive test for a Class A substance in weightlifting carries a mandatory life ban, which Daly will have the opportunity to contest at a disciplinary hearing on Jan. 20. Daly confirmed to the Sunday Tribune newspaper that he was the athlete facing the life ban. Asked how he had come to test positive twice for steroids, he said he had taken a number of different supplements during a three-month training stint in Bulgaria last summer.
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It has also emerged that another weightlifter has been banned for six months for using a banned stimulant, while Andy Ryan, a judo international from Dublin tested positive for a steroid at the Irish Open championships in October. An unnamed boxer from Ulster also failed a doping control at the National Championships last year. However, he was later cleared by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association. Russell Treacy, an amateur cyclist from Cork, tested positive for epehdrine last July.
While rugby has also thrown up its share of positive tests, only one player, Ireland international scrum-half Tom Tierney, has ever served a suspension. Meanwhile, drug testing has yet to be introduced by the GAA in the Republic. However, controls have been taking place in Northern Ireland under the auspices of the UK Sports Council since the 1980s.
Leinster rugby setback
Leinster’s hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of rugby’s European Cup were given a setback last weekend when it was revealed that Eric Miller could be out of action for up to eight weeks after breaking his thumb. Miller suffered the injury during a warmup game against Munster, which Leinster won 17-15, and he will also be unavailable for Ireland’s opening Six Nations fixture against Italy in Rome on Feb. 3.
Trevor Brennan is likely to replace Miller for Leinster’s crucial game against Edinburgh on Friday. A win would see the Irish province move a step closer to qualification for the quarterfinals.
Munster, meanwhile, also have injury worries over centers Jason Holland and Mike Mullins before next Saturday’s pool match against Newport in Wales.
Beaten finalists last year, Munster also in with a good chance of qualifying for the last eight after winning all three of their opening games.