GAA to introduce blood testing as part of anti-doping systems

Dublin defeated Kerry in this year's All-Ireland Football final
Dublin fans celebrate after their team's All-Ireland Football final triumph this year

Blood testing will be introduced to the GAA's anti-doping programme in 2016.

GAA players have been undergoing urine tests for several years but this is to be extended to also include blood testing next year.

Ger Ryan, chairman of the GAA's medical, scientific and welfare committee, said blood testing had become "a fact of life" in Irish sport.

Ryan added that it was "inevitable" that blood testing would eventually be introduced to gaelic games.

The committee chairman added that he "fully appreciated the additional inconvenience" this will cause players but that the GAA could "not afford to be complacent in terms of the integrity of its games".

In 2015, 95 GAA players were tested as part of the anti-doping programme.

One of those tested, Monaghan McKenna Cup panellist, Thomas Connolly was handed a two-year suspension after being found to have taken the banned steroid stanozolol.

Connolly avoided a four-year ban after a GAA anti-doping hearing ruled that the violation was unintentional.

Following a motion from this year's annual congress, the medical, scientific and welfare committee did consider whether to introduce a concussion substitute to gaelic games but they have decided not to recommend it at this stage.

Dr Kevin Moran said it was the view of the committee that the current concussion guidelines was the best approach for the association and that the focus should be on the continued education of its players and members.

"Our management guidelines are clear in the view that if there is any doubt at all as to whether a concussion has been sustained, a player should be removed from play," said Dr Moran.

"We are not convinced that allowing time for side-line assessment will necessarily help in this regard as there is no test currently available that ensures accuracy for pitch side concussion assessment.

"Proposals to introduce a concussion sub presume that concussion can be diagnosed within a short time frame but that this was not in keeping with best practice and that symptoms of concussion can take several hours to present."