Press Release


Capped 61 times for Scotland, Weir calls for greater funding for clinical research and more drug availability to fight the crippling condition

Filmed at Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby football, former international Doddie Weir opens up to Alex Salmond about his struggle with Motor Neurone Disease (MND). Weir discovered in December 2016 that he was suffering from the devastating condition, which affects around 5,000 people in the UK alone. 

In an exclusive interview with Scotland’s former First Minister, he discusses the impact on his family and the need for more funding for clinical trials and research into the condition. He claims only one drug exists in the UK for MND treatment – and that was licensed 22 years ago. Since then, there has been limited public funding into finding a better form of treatment or cure, although in Scotland there has been a recent increase in public nursing provision following the campaign by the late Gordon Aikman and an enhanced research effort at the largely privately funded Euan Macdonald centre at Edinburgh University.

Throughout the interview, Doddie shows incredible spirit and courage in the face of the progressive and terminal condition. Describing the effects of MND, he says, “It’s a muscle wasting condition….you’re debilitated. You can’t do anything for yourself.” Eventually you “can’t eat, can’t move, can’t dress, can’t go to the toilet, can’t breathe, even”…

Doddie shares his journey with the condition by comparing it to his approach to international rugby saying: “I always thought when the team got announced, I was going to get dropped. So if I was dropped, I was expecting it, so it wouldn’t be a shock. If I was in the team, I was quite delighted”. He says he has to have the same attitude towards MND and that he was almost expecting his diagnosis. He thinks of it as “a ticket that someone has given me…. so let’s just get on and see if we can try and get something sorted”. He also reveals how he told his wider family in mid-January last year, which “makes life a lot easier – you’re not trying to hide so much when you’re having to go to doctors visits”. Going public required a great deal of thought and was “pretty well timetabled”.

Weir is now reviewing world clinical research into MND. He recently returned from New York on a fact finding mission after Brian Kennedy, (former owner of the Sale Sharks rugby club in Greater Manchester), invited him to see some specialists. He says: “The Americans seem to be more up for trying things and giving things a go…”

Doddie is looking to change attitudes and funding into MND here in the UK and has also set up a charity My Name’5 Doddie Foundation “There is a battle ahead, it’s like Scotland vs England”, he says, a “big important battle and I’m certainly here for a fight…”


The Alex Salmond Show is broadcast on RT International, Thursday 0730, 1830, and 2330 GMT on Freeview 234, Freesat 206 and Sky 512.