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GAA players warned to be careful with supplements

By John Harrington

GAA players have been told its vital they check that any sports supplements they take to aid their training and recovery don’t contravene anti-doping regulations.

With the publication last week of the Association’s return to Gaelic Games roadmap, GAA players now known when they’ll be playing matches again.

That means there’s likely to be a heavy block of training in the coming weeks and some players may be tempted to use sports supplements as a nutritional aid.

But GAA Player Welfare Manager, Kevin Leahy, says its vital that any player who goes down this path should do all they can to ensure the supplements they use don't contravene anti-doping regulations.

“The most pressing issue in terms of anti-doping, based on the most recent ESRI finding, is that some people are still buying supplements off the internet without checking them,” Leahy told GAA.ie.

“In the absence of regulation and quality assurance within the supplement industry, no supplements can be guaranteed to be clean, but the most reputable brands have their supplements ‘batch tested’ by a lab which, while not being bullet-proof, does give a level of assurance as to whether a supplement is clean or not.

“It's important that players know there is a website they can go to where they can check the supplements before they buy them - https://www.informed-sport.com/.

“All supplements that have been lab-tested will have a batch number on them which you can check in the shop or online before you buy them to make sure that what you're buying has been tested.

“The supplements or products that a player might be looking for should be on that site. It's not a case where we're restricting people.

“There is a similar system in place for medications - even though they are regulated and have quality assurance - you still need to know whether they are on the banned list or not.”

Players are solely responsible for any prohibited substance in their system regardless of whether there was an intention to cheat or not. 
Players are solely responsible for any prohibited substance in their system regardless of whether there was an intention to cheat or not. 

The GAA currently provide anti-doping education to inter-county players in two ways.

Firstly, through a face to face workshop delivered to a squad by a registered GAA anti-doping tutor where a player’s attendance must be recorded by signature.

And, secondly, players can individually complete the GAA’s online anti-doping course where successful completion is recorded electronically.

Through these two methods, inter-county players are fully briefed on all aspects of medication and supplement usage and what is best practice in these areas.

Inter-county players cannot avail of the Government expenses scheme if they don’t complete their anti-doping education annually.

The GAA currently has 42 registered anti-doping tutors who receive ongoing training, and the Association also refreshed and updated the online Anti-Doping course in late 2019 to ensure that it continues to offer the most up to date information.

Approximately 2,300 players received anti-doping education in 2019/2020 through a combination of the face to face work-shops and completion of the online anti-doping course.

For further information on the GAA’s anti-doping education programme, go here - https://learning.gaa.ie/antidoping

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