Bryan Sheehan: These are bully-boy tactics from Sport Ireland, pay the grants

The former Kerry captain is directly affected by the situation and feels that dope testing GAA players at home is a bridge too far from Sport Ireland…


At the end of the day these are amateur players involved in this row with Sport Ireland and testing them at home is a step too far.

They are already providing 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 because a guy can be called up from the club ranks to the county set-up at any time.

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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 giving all this commitment at training, going to the gym and playing matches. When you finally do get to have a few hours at home with your family you should be left have that and now they want to start coming to your house to drug test you there too.

Some people find strangers coming into their home an invasion – others don’t.  What amateur runners and athletes are getting from sport in Ireland grant wise, is way more significant that what the GAA players are getting.

When you’re going to the Olympics or World events and representing Ireland – that’s a different standard. So, they are entitled to it.

GAA players are competing in a national sport amongst ourselves, and getting somewhere in the region of €700 to €900. It ranges depending on how well you do.

To be asking people to undergo drug testing in their homes for that is a bridge too far for me. They’re still giving samples, it’s not as if they’re saying no to it.

My 2017 grant is affected

I was only ever drug-tested once.

But, that’s not to say that they weren’t in the Kerry camp on numerous occasions. They would call at the very least maybe three times a year and fellas were called in after games.

It’s affecting me directly because my payment from the 2017 campaign hasn’t come through. It was due in March and never arrived.

It’s wrong from the point of view that this is something that isn’t going to come into effect until 2019. So, why are they withholding payments from 2017 and possibly 2018?

This is a case of Sports 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 Sports Ireland and it’s unacceptable.

Release the money now

They are trying to agree on an addendum being added to that contract now, in the middle of a campaign and that’s not on. I’m not just saying that because I’m personally effected.

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.

You also 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.

The money should be released now. It’s June. It should have been released in March.

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