The inaugural meeting of MIDAS (Management of Intelligence and Drugs Action in Sports) took place at the Irish Turf Club Offices, The Curragh, County Kildare on Thursday 22nd October 2015. The symposium attended by Senior Level Executives from Horse Sport Ireland (HSI), Greyhound Racing Ireland (GRI), Irish Turf Club (ITC) and the Investigations Division of the Department of Agriculture marks a stepping stone towards a unified approach in the regulation of doping and medication control for Horse and Greyhound sports working in conjunction with the drugs enforcement authorities in Ireland.
The opening symposium facilitated discussions on how effective management of intelligence combined with investigatory activities can help improve tools and develop new strategies to combat the use of drugs in animal sports. Speaking of the first meeting of its nature for animal sports in Ireland, Chairperson of the meeting Hilary Forde (Director of Racing Governance & Compliance, GRI) stated “that all Sports Regulatory Authorities (SRA’s) are cognisant of the various challenges we face driving international best practice across doping and medication control, especially within a limited resource environment. Accordingly working together to achieve common goals through forums such as MIDAS ensures both the SRA’s commitment to the welfare of the animal and that the integrity of animal sports is derived from a level playing field”. The Sports Bodies involved also agree that regular contact with the Department’s Investigation Division and other enforcement agencies is hugely advantageous for doping enforcement across a wide range of areas.
This drugs action group will continue to meet regularly, extending the Agenda to other areas including but not limited to; recent developments on the importation of illegal drugs and medication control, identification of potential new doping substances, strengthening communication and data sharing in the field, and development of new tools and strategies to fight against doping in sports and enhancing transparency and robust disciplinary procedures for all SRA’s. Speaking from the host venue, The Turf Club’s Chief Executive Denis Egan commented that “this is a very important initiative launched between the three regulatory authorities and the Investigations Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to ensure illegal performance-enhancing drugs have no place in sport. The Turf Club and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee welcome its setting up and with the imminent publication of the report of the Irish Thoroughbred Anti-Doping Task Force, the resource that this group will provide will greatly assist our future work”.
Referring to the initiative, Minister Tom Hayes said: “The reputation of Ireland’s animal sports rests on robust integrity models. There is no place for the tiny minority who would use illegal substances in Irish sport, and I am delighted to see the development of this strong collaborative mechanism between the various agencies involved.”