Ray Walker says he did not 'intentionally take any banned substance' as he accepts ban

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Carlow footballer Ray Walker has said he "did not intentionally take any banned substance" and is accepting a four-year ban, according to reports. 

In a statement released through the Gaelic Players’ Association (GPA) on Tuesday evening, Walker responded to reports by Off the Ball that he tested positive following a doping test at a Carlow training session on February 18, conducted by the Sport Ireland, for a banned substance.

In a statement he confirmed the following: "My name is Ray Walker. I am 35 years-old and returned to the Carlow senior football panel last November following a long absence. I am the player who is at the centre of recent reports about an anti-doping violation.

"In light of the four-year ban which I now have to serve, which ends my inter-county career, and most likely my club involvement given my age, I want to put the following on the record.

"I did not intentionally take any banned substance. Anything that was found in my system was there completely unintentionally.

"I cannot explain for sure how the substance came to be in my system but I was taking anti-inflammatories for a lower stomach issue around the time of the test.

"I am accepting the four-year ban because I want this episode over and done with and, at 35, even a lesser ban would still mean I was unlikely to ever return to playing. It is not an admission of intentional wrong doing on my part in any way.

"Finally, from the time that I re-joined the Carlow panel in November to the time the test took place in February, I did not receive any anti-doping training or education. I will be making no further comment on this matter and would appreciate that the media would respect my privacy in this regard."

Off The Ball exclusively revealed the identity of the GAA player that tested positive for meldonium, according to their report. 

Meldonium was the same stimulant at the centre of the tennis player Maria Sharapova’s ban. Used to treat angina and heart problems, it was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (Wada) banned list in January 2016, having been on their monitoring programme throughout 2015.