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Tyrone captain Sean Cavanagh: Some of our stars are doping

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone captain Sean Cavanagh has stated that he believes some players in the GAA are using performance-enhancing drugs.

Speaking at the launch of the All-Ireland Under-21 Championships as an ambassador of Eirgrid, the 33-year-old said: "I have no doubt there are players out there who are probably taking the chance.

"There was a case last year with one of the Monaghan lads." (Thomas Connolly, who was handed a two-year ban last June after testing positive for an anabolic steroid he said he had taken unwittingly after trialling with Malachy O'Rourke's side).

"A lot of guys just aren't educated enough to know what they can and can't take and there's that many things on the internet that say 'batch tested'.

"I'd say there probably is a chance, whether purposely or not purposely, that there are guys that are playing that have something in their system that shouldn't be there."

Due to changes in the anti-doping procedures at the start of the year, GAA players have now been obliged to take blood tests.

As a partner in an accountancy practice, Cavanagh believes this to be unfair on amateur players as they attempt to achieve a work-life balance.

"It can be frustrating. We've seen it at training on a Tuesday night, an hour from home and guys are sitting at a quarter to twelve at night waiting to give their sample when they have to get up for work the next morning at seven o'clock," he explained.

"While you understand it has to be done, 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."

In his 15-season career at inter-county level, Cavanagh believes he has been tested for drugs "10 or 15 times".

He added how the influx of supplements has made it difficult for young players who want to make the gains to step up to senior level.

He said: "Five, six, seven, eight years ago, whenever we were tested, even 10 years ago, the worst thing you could probably fall foul of was a dodgy cough cure.

"Now there's that much proteins, branch chains, amino acids, I don't even understand half the stuff the boys may be taking to be honest."

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