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Overview - Anti-Doping & the GAA

Since 2001, the GAA has been drug testing players as part of an agreement with Sport Ireland and their policy to cooperate with the international anti-doping campaign administered by the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA). The GAA believes that doping is contrary to the spirit of sport and every member has a duty to ensure that Gaelic games are free of doping.

All GAA members are subject to the Anti-Doping Rules as adopted by Sport Ireland (Rule 1.13 GAA Official Guide Part 1, 2024). While any player may be selected for testing, there is a particular focus on testing with regard to Inter-County players. Indeed, it is a condition of eligibility for the Government Eligible Expense Scheme and all county team support personnel (e.g. managers, coaches, medical personnel, nutritionists, psychologists, officials) have a responsibility to ensure that they are aware of the Irish Anti-Doping Rules and that there is an atmosphere supporting a drug-free sport within each County.

The information that follows highlights key areas with regard to anti-doping. The GAA advises all members to read and understand the Anti-Doping Rules and to understand their responsibilities under the rules. The consequences of not adhering to Anti-Doping Rules can be severe for players and their support personnel such as coaches and parents; therefore it is critical that any questions/concerns be clarified with either the GAA or Sport Ireland.




There were several important changes to the Irish Anti-Doping rules which came into effect on January 1st, 2015. The main changes for players to note are in relation to sanctions and the risk of supplements. The use of serious doping substances for example steroids, growth hormone, EPO and various calculated doping methods for example blood transfusions can be sanctioned with four-year bans. Refusing to provide or evading sample collection will now be sanctioned, with bans of up to four years. The issue of contaminated supplements has been acknowledged by the latest version of the Anti-Doping Rules. If a player can establish ‘no significant fault or negligence’ then the sanction can range from a reprimand to a maximum of two years. This concept is explained in more detail in the ‘Risk minimisation’ section (found in video resources below).

There have been significant changes with regard to the use of Glucocorticoids for 2022 by WADA, which may have an impact for Gaelic Games' players. Please see below documentation which provides further information on these updates. Please also see below additional updates provided by WADA ahead of the 2024 season.


Please note that the major 2024 update concerns the narcotic "Tramadol", which is prohibited in competition from January 1st, 2024. Further information can be accessed below in the "2024 Announcements" section.


The prohibited list is updated by WADA annually and is available at -

Please consult the overall WADA website for the most up to date information in the realm of anti-doping -

Please also consult the Sport Ireland Anti-Doping page for additional information -

Medicine Checker Websites

  • Your attention is drawn to the new Sport Ireland medicine checker website, launched in 2023. This resource is where athletes can now check the status of all medication purchased in the 26 counties -
  • Athletes in the 6 counties should use the following checker website -

A reminder that all athletes should check the status of all medicines before consumption.

Sport Ireland & WADA have issued the following advisory notes in relation to changes for 2024:

  • Tramadol Update for 2024 - The narcotic, "Tramadol" is prohibited in competition, effective January 1st, 2024. Additional information on this can be found in the below 2024 Summary of Major Modifications & Explanations
  • The Washout Period is confirmed as being 24 hours prior to the beginning of the in-competition period
  • If Tramadol is used within 24 hours prior to the start of the in-competition period, athletes should be aware that there is a risk that their testing sample collected in-competition could return positive.

Please find below links to key 2024 WADA Documents - 

  • 2024 Tramadol Factsheet for Medics
  • 2024 WADA Prohibited List
  • 2024 WADA Summary of Major Modifications & Explanatory Notes
  • 2024 WADA Monitoring Programme (this includes substances which are not on the Prohibited List, but that WADA wishes to monitor in order to detect patterns of misuse in sport)

Sport Ireland have issued the following advisory notes in relation to changes for 2023:

Your attention is drawn to the new Sport Ireland medicine checker website below for 2023. This resource is where athletes can now check the status of all medication purchased in the 26 counties. A reminder that all athletes should check the status of all medicines before consumption.

Tramadol - 2024 Update

Major Modification concerning tramadol for 2024 - It should be noted that, on the 23rd September, WADA’s Executive Committee also endorsed the recommendation, by the List Expert Advisory Group, to prohibit the narcotic tramadol in competition, effective 1 January 2024. The delay in implementation is to provide an additional year for broad communication and education of athletes, their entourage and medical personnel so that there is a better understanding of the practical implementation of tramadol prohibition in competition.

From January 1, 2016 Blood Testing will be introduced to Gaelic games as part of the Association's Anti-Doping Programme in conjunction with Sport Ireland. Blood testing is not a replacement for urine testing. Sport Ireland can test both blood and/or urine on certain occasions. The sanction for refusal is a period of ineligibility of up to four years from sport. Testing of GAA players can only occur at training or games.

From May 2023, Sport Irelands Anti-Doping Unit will soon begin collecting samples by means of Dried Blood Spots (DBS). DBS is an innovative testing method that collects just a few drops of blood from an athlete’s fingertip or upper arm. This is an additional testing method approved by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Sport Ireland will continue to collect both urine and venous blood samples. However, you may also be subject to testing using DBS as an additional sample collection method. Additional information can be accessed via the below factsheet from Sport Ireland -

This course is for all Inter-county players of all Gaelic Games (GAA, Camogie & LGFA). You must first complete your profile and then complete the interactive video-based modules before getting access to download your own certificate.

For more information regarding anti-doping in the GAA, please e-mail [email protected] or tel: (01)819 2923