League of Ireland footballer Brandon Miele given two-year ban for anti-doping violation

Sport Ireland brought the case against the 26-year-old after he was randomly selected to provide a sample in April 2019.

Brandon Miele in action for St Patrick's Athletic.
Brandon Miele in action for St Patrick's Athletic.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Updated at 16.43

BRANDON MIELE INSISTS he has never taken any banned substance after he was found to have violated anti-doping rules and was handed a two-year ban from all football related activities by Sport Ireland.

The Dubliner was named PFA Ireland Young Player of the Year in 2015 while starring for Shamrock Rovers, but this case was brought against the 26-year-old after he was randomly selected to provide a sample on 19 April 2019 while with St Patrick’s Athletic.

Miele was facing the prospect of a four-year ban but in a hearing at the start of last month he was able to plead his case for leniency, revealing details of a family emergency involving his young daughter.

The case centred around Rule 2.3 which relates to “Evading, Refusing or Failing to Submit to Sample Collection” with Rule 10.2.1 determining a ban of four years, “unless, in the case of failing to submit to Sample collection, the Athlete can establish that the commission of the anti-doping rule violation was not intentional, in which case the period of Ineligibility shall be two (2) years.”

A statement from Sport Ireland read:

“Sport Ireland and Football Association of Ireland announced today that Brandon Miele has committed a violation of Article 2.3 of the Irish Anti-Doping Rules – …without compelling justification, refusing or failing to submit to Sample collection after notification as authorised under these Rules or other anti-doping rules”.

Mr. Brandon Miele has been sanctioned by the imposition on him of a period of ineligibility of 2 years commencing on the 9th of September 2019. Following his participation at match on the 19th April 2019, he committed a violation of Article 2.3 by not submitting to Sample collection after notification and did not have a compelling justification for doing so. 

“Sport Ireland also alleged that Mr Miele had committed an alleged anti-doping rule violation under Article 2.5 Tampering or Attempted Tampering with any part of Doping Control, however the Panel found that Sport Ireland did not establish to the comfortable satisfaction of the Panel that Mr Miele had committed an anti-doping rule violation under Article 2.5.”

In a lengthy statement of his own, issued through PFA Ireland, Miele added: “On 19 April 2019, while an unused substitute for St Patrick’s Athletic, in a match against Sligo Rovers, I was selected randomly to do a post-match drugs test.

“As I had already urinated twice over the course of the match, I found it difficult to provide a sample.  While trying to do so, I was informed by my partner, Sinead, that my daughter had fallen and hit her head. 

“Over a period of two hours while attempting to comply with the requirements of the testers, my partner became increasingly concerned about the health of my daughter and contacted me continuously to ask me to return to care for her. 

“While some confusion arose as to whether or not she had been brought to hospital, it became apparent to me that it would be necessary to leave the testing centre to be with my daughter, who has a history of health problems in her short life to date, including one period of intensive care detention.

“After two hours of trying everything to provide a sample including drinking copious amounts and walking on cold floors in bare feet, I was only able to provide a partial sample. 

“I had reached such a state of agitation and confusion as a result of my daughter’s health at this point that I felt I must leave to be with her.  I was not aware at the time of the consequences of leaving at this juncture but felt my first obligation was to my family.

I am pleased that, in spite of the decision, the tribunal fully accepted my honest attempts to cooperate and indeed found that “all four witnesses called on behalf of Sport Ireland were of the view that Mr Miele acted in a sincere and fully cooperative manner at all times and took the decision that he had to be there for his family” and “genuinely believed that Mr Miele was agitated and upset and concerned about the health of his daughter.

“The panel reached the conclusion that Sinead and I are ‘caring and responsible parents who regard as paramount the health and well being of their young daughter….the failure to provide a sample (after a two hour period) was driven by Mr Miele’s desire to be with his family and daughter and does not in the opinion of the panel constitute a manifest disregard of the potential anti-doping violation’.

“While I do not regret my decision to prioritise my daughter’s health, I do regret that the effect this has had. 

“Ultimately, I have to take responsibility for my actions that night but I do feel that I was placed in an impossible position.  I believe that many people would have followed a similar course.

“I was not sufficiently aware of the rules or penalties that follow a failure to provide a full sample.  I do believe that the sanction of two years is very severe having regard to the dilemma I faced and having regard to lesser bans for people who have been found guilty of taking a banned substance but I must accept the decision of the tribunal.

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“I realise that I have the option to appeal but given the possibility of an even longer ban and my desire to put this episode behind me, I do not intend to do so.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, I did not at that time take, and have never taken, any banned substances.

“Although I feel that the punishment that I am facing is particularly harsh, I hope that this will serve as a lesson to all other footballers and sportspeople who are faced with giving a sample. 

“I hope they never face the choice I had but my experience is such that I would advise everyone now facing such a situation that not giving a sample should be the very last resort and every conceivable effort should be made.

“I would like to thank my family for their support and for the assistance of the PFA Ireland who have provided professional and legal advice throughout the process with particular thanks to Stephen McGuinness, Stuart Gilhooly and Patrick Marron B.L.” 

St Patrick’s Athletic also issued a statement this afternoon confirming the details surrounding the player’s departure.

“It is with regret that St Patrick’s Athletic FC have this afternoon learned of the outcome of Sport Ireland’s investigation of Brandon Miele.

“All at St Patrick’s Athletic were most optimistic when signing Brandon, a very talented footballer.

“Brandon did not train with the club since the beginning of May and tendered his resignation on June 6th, 2019 which was accepted.”

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