Sport Ireland Publishes 2023 Anti-Doping Review

Sport Ireland Doping

Sport Ireland Anti-Doping has today published its Annual Report for 2023, during which a record number of tests were carried out.

There were 1,826 samples collected in 2023, with 1,595 tests in total.

One test encompasses all the samples that were collected for one athlete within that visit.

To reflect the breadth of the programme Sport Ireland began in 2023 to report the number of samples collected, as well as the number of tests conducted.

The figure of 1,826 is comprised of the number of urine, blood serum, blood Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) and Dried Blood Spot (DBS) samples collected. Testing was carried out in 12 countries across 32 different sports.

The Sport Ireland Anti-Doping Programme was established in 1999. It commenced operation in January 2000. The purpose of the Programme is to ensure that sport is drug free. It does this through three key elements; testing, research and education.

Education-first remains a key priority with 21 face-to-face or online clean sport sessions delivered to over 800 stakeholders in 2023.

Through Sport Ireland’s clean sport e-learning programme 1,600 new users were certified, and 900 re-certified.

In 2023, Sport Ireland’s Anti-Doping Unit (ADU) began collecting Dried Blood Spot (DBS) samples. DBS testing is an innovative testing method which collects just a few drops of blood from an athlete’s fingertip or upper arm and does not require temperature-controlled shipping.

A total of 116 DBS samples were collected in 2023. This is a complementary testing method and does not replace the traditional urine and venous blood samples which remain the fundamental components of our testing programme.

Sport Ireland also launched the Medcheck website (replacing the Eirpharm database) in January 2023 where athletes can check the status of all pharmaceutical products purchased in the Republic of Ireland. In 2023 there were 16,333 searches on this site.

There was one anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) reported in 2023, in Tug of War for a recreational drug, with an additional ADRV pending.

A data sharing agreement was also finalised with An Garda Siochána, who appointed a senior officer as the liaison contact with Sport Ireland’s ADU.

This collaboration and the increasing prioritisation of Intelligence and Investigations was reflected by the input of international experts Günter Younger, Director of Intelligence and Investigations with WADA, and Michael Heffernan who is the Intelligence and Investigations Officer in Sport Ireland and a WADA tutor, speaking on a panel at the launch of the 2023 Anti-Doping annual report.

Sport Ireland launched paperless sample collection for all athletes on the Registered Testing Pool and for 2024 this will be rolled out further to include in-competition events and squad training sessions.

In collaboration with four other National Anti-Doping Organisations the ADU developed a paperless app designed to replace paper sample collection forms.

“Partnership and collaboration continue to be at the forefront in anti-doping at a national, EU, and international level,” said Minster of State for Sport and Physical Education, Thomas Byrne.

“The excellent work being carried out by the Sport Ireland Anti-Doping Unit educates and increases the awareness of our National Governing Bodies and Irish athletes, reflecting the collective commitment to the clean sport agenda.”

“I would like to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of the Sport Ireland Anti-Doping Unit as we ensure the highest international anti-doping standards are maintained,” added Sport Ireland CEO Dr Úna May.

“The figures from the 2023 Annual Report reflect their dedication and innovation. Dried Blood Spot testing and paperless testing have improved the efficiency of the programme, and in 2023 we strengthened our investigative capabilities by finalising a data sharing agreement with An Garda Siochána.”

Access the full report here.

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