Sporting codes distance themselves from neurologist over retraction controversy

Neurodegenerative disorders

By Michael Woodhead

17 Mar 2022

Sporting organisations such as the AFL and FIFA say they still have confidence in sports concussion guidelines developed by neurologist Dr Paul McCrory despite retractions of articles he had published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Dr McCrory, an associate professor at Melbourne’s Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, is a former Collingwood doctor and had previously helped develop the AFL’s concussion policy.

A spokesperson for the AFL said the Melbourne neurologist had not been a member of the league’s Concussion Scientific Committee or any other of its committees or groups working on concussion since 2021.

Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan said the retraction related to an editorial published in 2005 and did not change the advice on concussion compiled by multiple groups and individuals on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of concussion.

Soccer’s governing body FIFA is reportedly reviewing its relationship with Dr McCrory, telling the Guardian it was concerned about his resignation from the Concussion in Sport Group on 5 March.

Dr McCrory is the lead author on a consensus statement on concussion in sport which is used by FIFA as the basis of its concussion management guidelines for soccer players.

“Given the seriousness of the situation, FIFA is currently analysing the work of the Concussion in Sport Group (CISG) as a whole in order to decide the best way forward,” the group said.

World Rugby has stated that Dr McCrory had not been involved in any concussion working group that shapes policy for the sport.

“Rugby’s graduated return to play protocols (GRTP) are backed by scientific research and are guided by our Independent Concussion Working Group. Our GRTP is not based on the opinions of any one group or individual,” it said.

As previously reported in the limbic, Dr McCrory was the subject of a retraction notice from the British Journal of Sports Medicine, relating to an editorial published  in 2005 when he was the journal’s editor.

Publisher the BMJ Group said the article had been retracted “due to unlawful and indefensible breach of copyright. There was significant overlap with a previous publication.”

According to RetractionWatch, Dr McCrory told the author of the original article that the duplication of his work was an isolated incident due to the inadvertent uploading of a draft version.

However since then, other articles of concern have come to light and Dr McCrory has requested that another of his article be retracted.

Dr McCrory has been a key figure in the development of policies towards concussion in sport, an area that has been beset by controversy, with researchers at odd over whether the risks of neurodegenerative disease are being adequately addressed or being exaggerated.

The limbic has approached Dr McCrory for comment

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