Tyrone star Sean Canavagh fears doping a ‘fact of life’ in GAA

Sean Cavanagh playing in the Dr McKenna Cup. Trevor Lucy/ Press Eye
Sean Cavanagh playing in the Dr McKenna Cup. Trevor Lucy/ Press Eye

Tyrone GAA star Sean Cavanagh has welcomed routine drug testing in the sport amid fears players could be taking performance-enhancing drugs without even knowing it.

In an interview with the Irish Independent the 33-year-old said he had no doubt there were illicit substances in the GAA.

But he also aired concerns about players in the amateur sport being treated like professional athletes.

“While you understand that it has to be done,” he said. “The way in which it is done sometimes can be frustrating for players in that we’re treated as professionals but we’re not professionals and that can have an impact on guys’ lives.”

Although the move will act as a deterrent to many, he went on to say he thinks some players might still “take the chance”.

“There’s that many things on the internet that are saying ‘batch tested’ and what not but it’s a complete minefield at the moment,” he said.

“Whenever we were tested 10 years ago the worst thing you could probably fall foul of is a dodgy Lemsip.

“Nowadays there’s that much proteins, branched chain amino acids - I don’t even understand half the stuff the boys are taking to be honest.”

Asked if he thought some players might be taking performance enhancing drugs, he said: “I’d say there’s probably a reasonable chance that some guys are maybe.

“I’m not all that into it. I’m still stuck in the Tracker bar and Jaffa Cake era. Some guys are hugely into it nowadays so I’d say there probably is a chance, whether purposely or not, that there probably are guys that are playing that have something in the system that shouldn’t be there. That’s just a fact of life.

“I suppose there’s that much available in terms of supplements and a lot of guys just aren’t educated enough to know what they can and can’t take.”

The GAA announced late last year that players will now have to submit to blood and urine testing as part of the 2016 Anti-Doping programme rolled out by Sport Ireland.