Sport Ireland and GAA Confirm Anti-Doping Rule Violation

Further to Sport Ireland’s media release on Monday, May 29th, Sport Ireland and the GAA jointly confirm that the Irish Sport Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel has sanctioned Mr. Brendan O'Sullivan for the commission of an Irish Anti-Doping Rule Violation – IADR 2.1 Presence of a Prohibited Substance or its Metabolites in an Athlete’s Sample. 

Mr. O'Sullivan, a player with the Kerry Senior Football team, has received a period of ineligibility of 21 weeks for testing positive for methylhexaneamine ("MHA").  Mr. O'Sullivan was tested on the 24th April 2016 after playing as a substitute for Kerry in the National League Final.

He admitted that he had committed an anti-doping rule violation and engaged in a consultation process with Sport Ireland under the Irish Anti-Doping Rules regarding the sanction to be imposed on him. 

Mr. O'Sullivan explained that he took a supplement called Falcon Labs Oxyburn Pro Superthermotech.  He asserted that it was a contaminated product as defined in the Irish Anti-Doing Rules because MHA was not disclosed on the label or in a reasonable internet search which he asserted he had carried out before taking the product.

After analysis by Sport Ireland, carried out at the WADA-accredited laboratory in Cologne, of tablets left over from the original tub which Mr. O'Sullivan purchased and analysis of tablets from an unopened tub of the same product and consideration of sworn testimony from Mr. O'Sullivan regarding the internet search he had carried out, Sport Ireland accepted that it was a contaminated product case, that Mr. O'Sullivan bore no significant fault or negligence and specified a sanction of 7 months which it considered appropriate.

Mr. O'Sullivan declined to accept the specified sanction and on 5th January 2017 the matter was referred to the GAA Anti-Doping Hearings Committee.  The hearing of the GAA Anti-Doping Hearings Committee took place on 14th February 2017 and a written decision was delivered on 27th February 2017. The GAA Anti-Doping Hearings Committee imposed a sanction of 26 weeks.

On 16th March 2017 Mr O'Sullivan indicated he wished to appeal that decision to the Irish Sport Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel. The hearing of the Irish Sport Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel took place on 30th March 2017. On 7th April 2017, the Irish Sport Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel advised the parties that it had determined that the sanction should be reduced from 26 week to 21 weeks. It indicated that a written reasoned decision would be provided as soon as reasonably possible. That reasoned decision was received earlier today.

Mr. O'Sullivan was provisionally suspended from the 13th of May 2016 to the 28th of July 2016, a period of 11 weeks at which time his provisional suspension was lifted by the Chair of the Irish Sport Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel under Article 7.8.3 because the violation was likely to have involved a contaminated product and the remaining 10 weeks of ineligibility was deemed by the Irish Sport Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel to have commenced on the 26th February 2017, the date of his last participation in the Kerry panel.

The hearings were held under Article 8 (Disciplinary Process) and Article 13 (Appeals) of the Irish Anti-Doping Rules and this announcement is made pursuant to Article 15 (Public Disclosure) of the Rules.

The full decisions of the Irish Sport Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel and the GAA Anti-Doping Committee, along with a note on the specified sanction procedure, can be viewed here:  

Sport Ireland has a very clear policy in relation to supplements and recommends against the use of sports supplements for the following reasons:

·       We believe that a correct dietary and nutritional regime will provide all the potential benefits of sports supplements.

·       We believe that, given the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) principle of strict liability, elite athletes are opening up the possibility of inadvertent positive tests by taking supplements.

·       We believe it is inappropriate for any junior athlete or player to be taking supplements that could have an impact on their physical development.

Sport Ireland advises athletes there are no guarantees that any supplement is free from prohibited substances. If an athlete chooses to consume a supplement, Sport Ireland recommends they seek advice from a sports dietician and follow Sport Ireland’s risk minimisation guidelines.