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'Make sure no players are caught out' - Anti-doping motion explained ahead of GAA Congress

The GPA is proposing that players must complete online education about anti-doping or face a one-match ban.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

THE GPA HAS explained the rationale behind a motion regarding anti-doping education which they are bringing to the GAA’s annual Congress tomorrow, saying it’s important to “make sure no players are caught out.”

Motion 10 proposes that inter-county players must complete the GAA’s online anti-doping education course within the previous 12 months of the national league, or within the championship year to be eligible to play.

Players who do not comply with this rule will face a one-match suspension “in the same code and in the same competition, even if the game occurs in the following year.”

GPA Project Co-Ordinator Colm Begley has told The42 that anti-doping education already exists in the GAA but that this motion will ensure all players are properly informed.

“In 2019, players were educated on compliance with anti-doping by 21 March. That had to be done by all players before the first championship game, but with the nature of the county panel, we often see players joining after the anti-doping education is done.

“So it’s very important to ensure that those players aren’t left out with receiving anti-doping education because it’s a big part of what they’re involved in.

“Online education is really important for players to get to recognise their responsibility and the role they play with regards anti-doping.

“The principle aim is to ensure no players slip through the cracks. That every player is offered the opportunity to get anti-doping education, experience the concerns or issues they have and in the end, we’re trying to get stricter compliance with anti-doping education for players.

“It’s [for] their health and welfare overall, and make sure no players are caught out.

“We’ve had positive reviews from players as regards to feedback from what they’re getting in anti-doping education.

“We’ve had over 3,500 players receive anti-doping education in 2020 so it’s in a good place but this is just to tighten up the compliance and make sure all players receive it.”

Begley explains that players will be required to participate in workshops as part of this online programme, covering different modules and sections in relation to anti-doping.

colm-begley Colm Begley [file photo]. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Players have indicated an eagerness to comply while Begley says they have also had “really good engagement from county boards” about supporting the motion at Congress.

The course takes about 15-20 minutes to complete and players will answer questions on the material as they go along.

“The online platform,” says Begley, “allows everyone to avail of it in their own time in that period and make sure they’re not caught out because of scheduling. Online allows us to track our membership better and [see] who has and who hasn’t completed it.

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 ”Online versions of these things have become more prevalent in the last year and the technology can be used in a positive way.”

The GPA and WGPA agreed to merge into a single entity in December and Begley says these online education platforms will be available to all of its members in time. 

“It’s about reducing the risk from all aspects as regards the potential of players getting caught with anti-doping.

“We want to be sure to provide as much information as possible.”

The 2021 GAA Congress will be held via a video conference tomorrow.

48 motions have been drafted in total, although 10 of them will be deferred to a Special Congress later this year as they are considered too important or too nuanced to be debated properly over video.

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Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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