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Rugby Remains At Forefront of Anti-Doping In Ireland

Rugby Remains At Forefront of Anti-Doping In Ireland

The IRFU has published its Anti-Doping Report for 2016/17. The report records the testing of Irish rugby players across both the 2016 calendar year and the 2016/17 season.

Irish rugby players were tested on 308 occasions during 2016. 113 of these tests were funded through Sport Ireland with the remaining 195 tests funded by the IRFU and other rugby bodies through Sport Ireland’s ‘User Pays’ programme. 

In 2015 there was a 23% year-on-year increase in the number of tests undertaken, driven by additional World Rugby testing of the national men’s squad before and during Rugby World Cup 2015 (110 tests) and the Ireland Sevens representative sides competing in World Rugby events (44 tests).

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2016 saw a further 10% increase on the record high level of testing recorded in 2015. The increase in 2016 is again driven by tests funded through Sport Ireland’s ‘User Pays’ programme with investment by the IRFU and other rugby bodies increasing the number of tests paid for by rugby bodies from 166 to 195. 

In comparing the testing carried out over the 2016/17 season with the last non-Rugby World Cup year (2014/15), there has been a 14% increase in testing of the Ireland team.

There was an 18% increase in out-of-competition testing of provincial squads and a 7% increase in testing at national Under-20 level. 

There were decreases in the number of tests at provincial Academies and across the Sevens programme, which is a result of these players being captured elsewhere in the system such as with senior provincial squads, via the Ulster Bank League, in the Under-20 representative programme and the fact that it was a non-Olympic year.  

The IRFU is one of a small number of sporting organisations to invest annually in Sport Ireland’s ‘User Pays’ programme and this investment is augmented by other rugby governing bodies such as World Rugby, Six Nations and European Professional Club Rugby who also carry out in-competition and out-of-competition testing of Irish professional rugby players across the season. 71% of all ‘User Pays’ testing in Ireland in 2016 was funded by rugby.

IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne commented: “The IRFU continues to invest in education and awareness campaigns around the dangers of doping in sport. We operate a zero tolerance policy to cheating within rugby and must remain vigilant in our efforts to safeguard our players and educate them about the importance of clean sport.

“The professional game is a very different environment to the amateur participation side of the sport, but education and awareness across the full spectrum of the game is essential in maintaining Irish Rugby’s strong anti-doping record.

“As always we are grateful to Sport Ireland for their support and professional delivery of the anti-doping programme and the IRFU, along with the other rugby bodies, will continue to invest in additional testing though Sport Ireland’s ‘User Pays’ programme. We are committed to keeping rugby clean and will continue to place a strong emphasis on our anti-doping programme.”

IRFU 2016/17 Anti-Doping Report