18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
The Irish Rugby Football Union has been informed by the independent IRFU Drugs Tribunal that it has adjudicated on a case brought before it by the IRFU against a player of a doping offence arising out of the detection of a prohibited substance during competition testing as part of the Irish Sports Council's National Sports Anti-Doping Programme.
The Tribunal's decision is that Mr. Stephen Smyth of City of Derry has been found guilty of taking the prohibited substance pseudoephedrine.
The IRFU made its decision on the 24th of May 2002. In its decision, it found that after a rugby match on the 16th of March 2002 which took place in Belfast between Malone and City of Derry, in a random test for drugs, Mr. Smyth was found on analysis to have pseudoephedrine in his sample.
According to the IRFU Drugs Tribunal, Mr. Smyth, promptly through his solicitor admitted the correctness of the analysis and the doping offence. The IRFU Drugs Tribunal found that the prohibited substance had been consumed inadvertently by Mr. Smyth when he had purchased, without prescription, the drug Galpseud, because he was feeling unwell on the morning of the match. Mr. Smyth's version of events was confirmed by expert testimony tendered to the Drugs Tribunal.
The IRFU Drugs Tribunal was impressed by the candour of Mr. Smyth's account of events and was satisfied that while quite clearly any case of consumption of a prohibited drug is one of considerable seriousness, this was a case in which justice could be done by a lenient sentence.
The IRFU Drugs Tribunal therefore did not impose any suspension on Mr. Smyth but admonished him for the doping offence committed and for the carelessness involved in respect of the matter and warned him in regard to his future conduct.
Mr. Smyth did not appeal the decision of the IRFU Drugs Tribunal to the IRFU Drugs Appeals Tribunal within the required fourteen days and therefore the decision of the IRFU Drugs Tribunal has become final and binding on the IRFU and on Mr. Smyth.