The media frenzy around James Cronin’s 1 month doping ban is a sign of the times. In normal times, it would be minor news. One can only empathise with him.

Gerry Thornley’s latest article in Tuesday’s Irish Times raises some interesting points, particularly regarding the pharmacy’s degree of fault – Cronin is suing the pharmacy.

However, Sport Ireland will be more concerned with the Athlete’s personal degree of fault, rather than any outside influence, in deciding whether to appeal Cronin’s ban.

Article 2.1.1 of the World Anti Doping Code (adopted by Sport Ireland and World Rugby) states:

It is each Athlete’s personal duty to ensure that no Prohibited Substance enters his or her body. An Athlete is responsible for any Prohibited Substance or any of its Metabolites or Markers found to be present in his or her Sample

That means Athletes are personally accountable for everything that enters their body. If they consume a prohibited substance, they will be sanctioned (unless they can show they had absolutely no fault).

It means rigorous due diligence. It means routinely checking all substances before consumption, even where medically prescribed. It is about protecting clean sport.

While Thornley points out that “many of us have [taken tablets] without reading leaflets or google searching its contents” he is overlooking these standards. Professional athletes know the rules. They are educated about them. Ad nauseum.

“Reading leaflets” and “google searching contents” is exactly what is expected of them.

Other athletes who, like Cronin, were found to have unintentionally doped were not so fortunate in terms of sanction:

  • Ashley Johnson (Rugby) – 6 month ban
  • Maria Sharapova (Tennis) – 15 month ban
  • Therese Johaug (Cross Country Skiing) – 18 month ban
  • Maran Cilic (Tennis) – 4 month ban

Sanctions are about protecting the integrity of sport.

Sport Ireland have until Monday to appeal the sanction.

Fault, not suspicion, will be their key consideration.