IN THEIR ANNUAL report for the 2012/13 season published on Friday, the Irish Rugby Football Union disclosed a marked decrease in the number of drug tests on senior international players.
The report shows that 19 anti-doping tests were carried out on players categorised as the ‘senior XV’ of Ireland’s international rugby squad, in 2011/12 there were 73, a 74% decrease. Of this season’s 19, two were samples taken in-competition.
However, the official report released has also shown an increase in testing carried out at provincial, under 20 and academy level.
Dr. Una May director of anti-doping for the Irish Sports Council (ISC), who oversee the tests, explains that the IRFU grouping of players is different from the ISC approach.
“For sure, we have tested more than two international players,” May told TheScore.ie yesterday. “We don’t identify athletes the way the IRFU might, but we would reach them through testing in the RaboDirect Pro12 and the Heineken Cup.”
At provincial level, in-competition testing rose from just six to 38 and out of competition samples almost doubled (to 64) as did academy players (to 11). Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the IRFU added that their anti-doping unit believes a focus on out of competition testing can be more beneficial.
May maintains that no deliberate move has been taken to shift the testing focus from the elite level to developmental, though the provincial academies remain an area the ISC wished to keep close control of.
Across 166 tests in total – a figure which has also increased year on year, from 154 – there was one positive test for a non-performance enhancing substance.