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Carlow footballer filed appeal to reduce anti-doping ban before accepting four-year suspension

Ray Walker yesterday confirmed his acceptance of the ban.

Ray Walker says he has accepted the four-year ban.
Ray Walker says he has accepted the four-year ban.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

THE GAA AND Sport Ireland have announced that Carlow footballer Ray Walker previously filed an appeal to seek a reduced ban for an anti-doping violation before accepting a four-year suspension.

The 35-year-old Walker confirmed yesterday that he had accepted the ban which will effectively end his playing career for both county and club. However, he claims that he unintentionally ingested the prohibited substance in question.

The Sunday Independent reported at the weekend that an inter-county player had failed a test after a National Football League game in February, and that the situation was being investigated by Sport Ireland who conducted the test.

The GAA and Sport Ireland have since released a joint statement confirming that Walker tested positive for the prohibited substance, Meldonium.

“The Gaelic Athletic Association and Sport Ireland today jointly announced that Raymond Walker has committed an anti-doping rule violation,” the statement begins.

“Mr Walker has accepted a period of ineligibility of four years commencing on 18 February, 2020.

“In a doping control test at a training session on February 18, 2020, he provided a sample, which tested positive for the presence of a prohibited substance, Meldonium. Mr Walker was notified of the positive test on 30 March.”

The statement adds that Walker initially accepted a four-year ban for the anti-doping violation before seeking an appeal to have the length of the ban reduced. Walker said in his statement yesterday that he had accepted the ban, and has since confirmed to Sport Ireland of his decision to withdraw his appeal.

“On 1 April, Mr Walker accepted the imposition of a four-year ban and waived his right to a hearing,” the statement continues.

“On 8 April, Sport Ireland issued its reasoned decision to Mr Walker pursuant to Article 7.6.4, imposing the four-year ban.

“The reasoned decision referred to the right of appeal available to WADA, the GAA and to Mr Walker within 21 days of receipt of this decision by these parties.

On 21 April, Mr Walker filed an appeal of the reasoned decision and sought a reduced ban.

“From media reports on Wednesday, 28 April, it appeared that Mr Walker was again accepting a four-year ban without the need for a hearing and yesterday morning, 29 April, Mr Walker confirmed to Sport Ireland that he had withdrawn his appeal.”

The GPA has also released a statement about Walker’s case, saying that the Carlow player “decided to represent himself” and respond directly to Sport Ireland about the matter.

“The Gaelic Players Association were notified of an alleged anti-doping rule violation by Carlow footballer Ray Walker on 30 March and of a provisional 4-year suspension for the player.

“The player decided to represent himself and responded directly to Sport Ireland.

“We will continue to offer the player personal support and we appeal for his privacy at this time.

“The GPA is fully supportive of the Sport Ireland anti-doping programme to promote clean sport and protect the integrity of our games. We will continue to work to ensure the GAA deliver robust education to all inter-county players and to support the Sport Ireland National Testing Programme.”

Originally published at 12.28

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