The Munster hooker is fighting to save his career after receiving a two year ban in July for having the banned substance Salbutamol in his system.
Damian Hopley, CEO of the PRA expressed concern over the implications for all rugby players in the UK of Frankie Sheahan s ban being upheld.
In a statement he said There has been huge interest in this case amongst our membership, all of whom are very concerned for rugby players in England if this severe ban is upheld. Asthma should not be a barrier to participation in sport at any level. There are several asthmatics playing in the Zurich Premiership, and this treatment of Frankie has set a very dangerous precedent.
Frankie has suffered from asthma for over 25 years and the Judicial Tribunal accepted that he was an asthmatic, that he required medication and that he inhaled this medication containing Salbutamol.
England captain and PRA Executive Management Board member Martin Johnson added that the regulations regarding the use of inhalers in rugby union have to be clarified in order to bring transparency and consistency to the issue of asthma medication.
Hopley concluded we would not wish for any asthmatic who is obliged to use an inhaler to undergo the turmoil that Frankie has had to endure.
Statement from the UK National Asthma Campaign
"Exercise induced asthma is a recognised medical condition but yet some of those running natiobnal and international sports display apppalling ignorance. This isn't a rare condition. When it comes to asthma among teenagers, the Republic of Ireland has the 5th highest level in the world. Athletes with asthma like Frankie Sheahan are an important role model for Ireland's children with asthma and cases like this send out negative messages.
People with asthma should be encouraged to reach their sporting potential and not have to worry about being accused of taking drugs to enhance their performance, in the current climate where asthma is widely misunderstood. It is important to stop cheats but we have to do it without discriminating against people with asthma who have shown the courage and determination to overcome the condition"
Statements from David Wallace & Ronan O'Gara:
Last Friday evening Frankie Sheahan was in Thomond Park sitting between Munster colleagues Anthony Foley and Peter Stringer watching his colleagues play their seasonal opener against Rotherham.
For Foley and Stringer there is just a fortnight to go before they will be named in the Ireland World Cup A week before that squad is named Sheahan will appear before an ERC Appeal panel for a meeting that will ultimately decide his chosen future as a professional rugby player. On the afternoon of Monday September 1st, Frank Sheahan and his legal team will present his appeal to the decision of an earlier ERC Tribunal that handed the Munster player a two year ban for having Salbutamol in his system after the Heineken Cup semi-final.
It's an anxious time for Sheahan and his family who have however been buoyed by the level of support they've been receiving from all quarters. Bodies such as the Munster Supporters Club, Irish Rugby Union Players Association, Cork Constitution, Munster Players and Management and the Irish Asthma Society have weighed in behind the asthma sufferer and colleagues in the Munster team including several asthma sufferers such as Ronan O'Gara, David Wallace and Peter Stringer have all expressed their disquiet at the treatment meted out to their colleague.
David Wallace played in the game against Rotherham on Friday evening and admitted afterwards that he was never aware of any danger in using a Ventolin inhaler. "To be perfectly honest I would have been like Frank in that I'd take puffs of my inhaler whenever and as often as I felt I needed to. I wouldn't have known that I could be in danger of exceeding limits and I can honestly say that there probably would have been times in the past when, if I'd been tested I could have found myself in the same situation that Frank now finds himself in. The point is that people like us, asthma sufferers, don't take Ventolin for the hell of it. We have to take it. And from what I've read it seems ERC took no notice whatsoever about Frank's condition."
Ronan O'Gara is another who suffers from asthma and the out half who is currently suffering from a wrist injury voiced his concern at the decision and the manner at which it was arrived. "I just think it's unbelievable really. Frankie and I have player together since we were 10 years of age and he always had to use his inhaler before and during matches. I have seen him in distress many times as a result of his asthma, and i know that, like myself, it would be unsafe for him to play without using an inhaler. I was with Frankie after the Toulouse game and witnessed his terrible cramping as a result of his severe dehydration. There seems to be no logic in the decision that the ERC tribunal arrived at. How can they ignore his condition and deny him his right to earn a living. I think this is a grave injustice and I hope that this wrong can be righted in the appeal, not only for Frankie's sake, but for the sake of all asthmatics.