Craig Walsh opens up about gambling addiction and cocaine use after ban

Former Shelbourne player Craig Walsh has been out of action since September of last year

Craig Walsh, League of Ireland, Bohemians

Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

League of Ireland player Craig Walsh has admitted that his one year ban from the game came as the result of a positive drugs test, which showed that he was using cocaine. 

On Friday, a joint statement from Sport Ireland and the Football Association of Ireland revealed that Walsh committed an anti-doping violation, but has had his original period of ineligibility reduced as they found there was "No Significant Fault or Negligence" on his part. 

The statement added that Walsh, who has played for UCD, Shelbourne and Bohemians in his time in the league, tested positive on the 5th of September, 2015 for Benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine. 

Walsh responded thorough his own statement on the PFA Ireland website, saying that he regrets what happened and wished that he could turn back the clock, but felt that he needed to "provide some clarity for my actions which were completely out of character for me.

"I suffer from a severe gambling addiction and have done for some years now," wrote Walsh. "It is debilitating and all consuming and, like most addictions, when it unleashes its full power, it becomes impossible to control. It has also caused me to suffer depressive symptoms as a consequence."

Image: Craig Walsh playing for UCD in 2013. ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan 

Referring to September of 2015, when he provided the positive sample, Walsh said "I hit rock bottom. I had lost far more money than I possessed and I lost control of my senses. My gambling problem had become more and more acute and I didn’t know where to turn. My judgment was impaired to such an extent that I drank to excess and then took a small amount of cocaine which was offered to me during a period when I was unable to exercise any level of self control. This is the first and last time that I have taken that, or any other, drug, and I regret it hugely."

Walsh's ban, which was 12 months in duration, took effect on September 5th of last year, and with his return now around the corner, he added that the incident "has made me a stronger person with a greater insight to the extent of the issues I had been dealing with."

Thanking Shelbourne and his family for their support, as well as the PFA Ireland, Walsh added that "I can’t wait to get back playing and repay the faith shown in me."