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'Hit the Google button' - Alan Quinlan on doping in South African and Irish rugby

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

11:16 16 Sep 2019

Alan Quinlan has defended Irish rugby, in the current debate about doping in the sport.

Quinlan was speaking on OTB AM about the arguments around doping ahead of the Rugby World Cup in Japan, due to kick off on Friday.

"A few people tweeted me over the weekend saying 'Just because we have had no high-profile positive tests here, doesn't mean we're clean,' Quinlan said.

"There are two questions I would ask there. Does it mean we're clean, or does it mean that we are adhering to anti-doping here? There is no doubt that everybody is not probably clean, but the vast majority are.

"A few South African people tweeted me saying 'You're just talking about a photo,' I'm not.

"Hit the Google button and you will see a list of high-profile international rugby players who have failed drugs tests. Hit the Google button for Ireland and you'll see none."

Quinlan was clear to suggest that he is not saying that everyone in Ireland is clean, but that the culture and attitude in the country is different to elsewhere in the world.

"This isn't me covering over this dark cloud, saying that it probably isn't going on - it's probably going on.

"There is a big problem in amateur rugby, where players are trying to make the leap up and I would be very concerned about the school level. That jump up to be the next [Johnny] Sexton or [Conor] Murray, and to make half a million a year - it's enticing.

"I don't think that we have a systematic drug problem here - I think there is a problem in South Africa, and that is proven by what you see."

The situation of Gerbrandt Grobler joining Munster was raised in the context of Ireland not holding a total zero-tolerance policy towards former dopers.

"I can't defend [the signing], but the question I ask is 'How many people who fail drugs tests hold their hands up?'"

In terms of his own experiences, Quinlan was clear to say that he had not seen anything in his personal career to raise alarm bells about former team-mates.

"There is absolutely no doubt there is [doping in rugby.] I had never seen it throughout my time.

"If you are with a group of people for ten or twelve years [...] we are training together all the time, we are in the gym together all the time.

"If someone is lifting 120 or 130kg bench press and somebody comes back and they are lifting 160 or 170kg, then you go 'What the hell is going on here?'

"Based on my experience, I never saw those kind of massive gains, or someone coming back after pre-season and thought 'that guy has gone huge'.

"I can't say it any differently."

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