No anti-doping violations in 2022 despite record testing by Sport Ireland

The organisation conducted 1,415 tests across 32 sports, including athletics, rugby and cycling

Every annual anti-doping report in sport is as much based on the deterrent as any actual detection, and the latest numbers from Sport Ireland are no exception.

In publishing the 23rd edition of its annual review, Sport Ireland details the record-high number of 1,415 tests carried out in 2022, across 32 different sports. It did not find a single anti-doping violation of any kind.

Depending on the exact interpretation of those numbers, it means either that Irish sport is running squeaky clean when it comes to doping or else that the testing methods aren’t quite doing their job as well as they might.

The deterrent part is running higher than ever: the total number of tests – just over three-quarters of which were out-of-competition – is up on the 1,354 tests carried out by Sport Ireland in the previous report, for 2021, when the the tests carried out across 28 different sports.


The overall running cost €2,051,706 of the anti-doping programme is also up on the cost of the previous year, which came in a €1,856,151.

Of the 32 National Governing Bodies (NGBs) listed in the report, Athletics Ireland was the most tested in 2022, with 218 tests, followed by the IRFU (195) and Cycling Ireland (185), with Rowing Ireland and the GAA both tested 140 times. Swim Ireland had 116 tests in the same period.

In the 2021 report, Cycling Ireland was the most tested sporting governing body with 221 tests, followed by Athletics Ireland (202), the IRFU (163), the GAA (140) and Rowing Ireland (127).

“Record-high testing figures, no anti-doping violations being reported, and increased engagement with the educational and research resources available all reflect on the significant work being carried out,” said Sport Ireland chief executive Dr Úna May. “And we would like to acknowledge the effort that has gone in by the sector at all levels to deliver this.

“It is clear that this education and awareness is the key to the programme’s continued progress and success.”

The number of approved Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUEs) applications in 2022 was up by one; five were granted in rugby, two in athletics, and one each in five other sports.

There were 13 unsuccessful testing attempts on three NGBs; the GAA (10), the IRFU (two) and the FAI (one), and the IRFU (two). The number of unsuccessful attempts on athletes on the registered testing pool fell by seven per cent from 2021.

Sport Ireland also emphasised the importance of education as a primary deterrent to doping in sport. In 2022, 1,800 users completed the Sport Ireland anti-doping e-learning programme. Additionally, the anti-doping unit of Sport Ireland offer all NGBs the opportunity to train staff or volunteers from their organisation as anti-doping tutors. In 2022, 10 tutors were trained and accredited, from seven different NGBs.

All athletes are also advised to check the status of all pharmaceutical products via the Eirpharm database (in January 2023 this was replaced with, and in 2022 there were 16,319 searches, up on the 11,821 searches the previous year.

Sport Ireland also continued its close collaboration with the Health Product Regulatory Authority (HPRA), Customs, and the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland to improve testing and surveillance. A data-sharing agreement was also established between Sport Ireland and An Garda Siochana in 2022.

Sport-by-sport anti-doping testing 2022 (In-competition/out-of-competition/blood/total)

Athletics Ireland 38/93/87/218

Badminton Ireland 9/0/0/9

Basketball Ireland 4/0/0/4

Camogie Associatioin 4/0/0/4

Canoeing Ireland 0/16/8/24

Cricket Ireland 12/0/0/12

Cycling Ireland 37/75/73 185

Football Association of Ireland 30/30/0/60

Gaelic Athletic Association 44/69/27/140

Golf Ireland 6/0/0/6

Gymnastics Ireland 6/13/2/21

Hockey Ireland 4/16/0/20

Horse Sport Ireland 10/0/0/10

Irish Amateur Wrestling Association 5/0/0/5

Irish Athletic Boxing Association 0/26/7/33

Irish Judo Association 0/14/1/15

Irish Martial Arts Commission 6/0/0/6

Irish Rugby Football Union 12/102/81/195

Irish Squash 2/0/0/2

Irish Taekwondo Union 4/3/1/8

Irish Tug of War Association 6/0/0/6

Irish Wheelchair Association – Sport 3/3/1/7

Women’s Gaelic Football Association 8/0/0/8

Motorcycling Ireland 11/0/0/11

Motorsport Ireland 28/0/0/28

Paralympics Ireland 0/31/8/39

Pentathlon Ireland 0/5/5/10

Rowing Ireland 8/71/61/140

Snow Sports Association of Ireland 0/5/0/5

Swim Ireland 19/52/45/116

Triathlon Ireland 15/23/15/53

Weightlifting Ireland 15/0/0/15

TOTAL: 346/647/422/1,415

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Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics