Cian O'Connor rues 'unsporting decision' as appeal upheld to scupper Irish showjumping Olympic dreams
Cian O'Connor has admitted his disappointment after it was confirmed that Ireland will miss the Olympic team show jumping event after sport's highest tribunal rejected their complaint over a bizarre incident at the European championships in August.
O'Connor was on course for a clear round until he appeared to be distracted by a member of the ground staff running across the arena during the event in Aachen which doubled as the Olympic qualifying contest.
Television pictures showed a staff member, wearing a yellow shirt, running across O'Connor's path and jumping into a flower bed. The Irishman's horse knocked down the next fence.
The incident cost Ireland a place at the Rio de Janeiro games as they finished one place below Spain and out of the Olympic qualifying spots. If O'Connor had gone clear, the positions would have been reversed.
"Disappointing News- Court Of Arbitration for Sport have upheld the decision of the FEI appeal committee from Aachen which means Team Ireland do not get a place for the Rio Olympics," O'Connor posted on his Facebook page.
"I have no regrets. I tried everything possible and left no stone unturned in trying to seek fairness for what I feel was an unsporting decision made by the ground jury in Aachen. It’s time to move on and refocus on the sport rather than getting caught up further in bureaucracy and even more angry with officialdom.
"Team Ireland are first reserve because of the good performance at WEG in 2014 so there is always a chance that we will get there yet- so best to keep aiming for it I guess!!
"Another interesting chapter for my book when I get round to it and I look forward to telling the no- holds- barred version!!!"
Ireland had already had an appeal against the result rejected by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).
CAS did not give any reasons for its decision.
"The CAS Panel has issued only its decision today, without the grounds, which will follow in the coming weeks," CAS said in a statement.