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'This is a bully-boy tactic from Sport Ireland:' Kerry great Sheehan slams decision to withhold grants

Five-time All-Ireland winner Bryan Sheehan also believes that drug-testing inter-county players at home is ‘a step too far.’

Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

KERRY GREAT BRYAN Sheehan has described Sport Ireland’s decision to withhold grants for inter-county players as a ‘bull-boy tactic’ and ‘unacceptable.’

Players have yet to receive their 2017 government grants due to the GPA’s refusal to sign up to Sport Ireland’s new drug-testing initiative, which would facilitate drug-testing of both the blood and urine variety at players’ homes.

Players would be required to provide their home addresses in order to be compliant with the new measure.

Five-time All-Ireland winner Sheehan says he has been directly affected by this situation and is still waiting on his payment from the 2017 campaign, which was due to arrive in March.

“I think it’s wrong from the point of view that this is something that isn’t going to come into effect until 2019,” he told Paddy Power.

“So, why are they withholding payments from 2017 and possibly 2018? I just think this is a case of Sport Ireland strong-arming the GPA into accepting this.

If they were withholding payments from 2019 onwards, you could somewhat understand it, but this is a bully-boy tactic from Sport Ireland and it’s unacceptable.

“They are trying to agree on an addendum being added to that contract now, in the middle of a campaign and I think that’s wrong.

“And I’m not just saying that because I’m personally effected. I’m speaking from the perspective that they are in the middle of the term of a contract.

“I think it’s very wrong the way they are going about it. The grant money that we get in the GPA is for our expenses, essentially for physio or for scans or medical appointments.

“So, you’re being reimbursed for losses incurred. But you have students involved here who are living from hand to mouth, heading into exam time now who are stuck for a bit of cash.

“It’s one thing to do it to a player that’s out working, but I feel for those lads who are students, and for whom money is a major issue. They could do without this racket.”

Seamus Hickey Séamus Hickey. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Irish amateur runner Lizzie Lee spoke out on the issue, saying she accepts her obligation to co-operate with drug-testing at home, while acting GPA CEO Séamus Hickey described the delay in payment for players as ‘neither fair or reasonable.

Sheehan says he ‘would be surprised’ to see the GPA go on strike over the matter and believes they have other more pressing concerns to attend to.

The 2011 All-Star revealed that he was drug tested once in his inter-county career before retiring in 2017, and while he accepts that Lee and others are entitled to their opinion, he disagrees with the proposal of drug-testing inter-county players at home.

“I think it’s a step too far. At the end of the day these are amateur players. They are already providing urine samples after games or at training.

“There’s no major problem with that, bar the hassle of having to wait around for a few hours after a game when you are completely dehydrated and having to try and pass urine.

Also, if you’re going to start drug testing inter-county players, why not drug test club players? We’re all in the same bracket.

“Last year it came in that they would begin blood testing, so that was another step. There wasn’t too much hassle about it.

“But now you’re training, going to the gym, playing matches and giving all this commitment, and when you finally do get to have a few hours at home with your family, they want to start coming to your house and drug test you there too?”

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