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'I took supplement', says O'Reilly as his Olympic dream dies


O’Reilly says banned substance may have been in supplement Picture: Sportsfile

O’Reilly says banned substance may have been in supplement Picture: Sportsfile

O’Reilly says banned substance may have been in supplement Picture: Sportsfile

Boxer Michael O'Reilly's Olympic medal dreams are at an end after he admitted taking a banned substance ahead of the Games in Rio.

The athlete, who boxes out of Portlaoise, faces a two-year ban and is the first Irish competitor to be expelled from the Olympics for failing a doping test.

The five-day saga surrounding his failed test drew to a close last night when the middleweight issued a short statement to RTE admitting that he "unintentionally took a supplement that may have contained a prohibited substance".


It is not known if O'Reilly had seen the results of his B-Sample before issuing the statement, but it is clear he accepted he would not be stepping into the ring.

When news of his failed test first broke O'Reilly seemed to state that he would be boxing as planned on Friday and opted for first an appeal and then a testing of his second B-Sample following crisis talks with his lawyers.

In his statement O'Reilly offered a "sincere apology to his fellow boxers, team mates, the Irish Amateur Boxing Association, Sport Ireland, the Olympic Council of Ireland and to all those who have supported him".

It is the first time he publicly admitted taking the supplement.

"Mr O'Reilly now freely admits that he unintentionally took a supplement that may have contained a prohibited substance. Mr O'Reilly was given this supplement unrelated to his team or association. Michael O'Reilly disclosed, at the time of the test, that he had taken the supplement," the statement read.

The 23-year-old middleweight - who won a bronze medal on his debut at the World Championships in Doha last October - was one of Ireland's best hopes for a medal in Rio. He was seeded three in his category, and would have needed just two wins to secure a place on the podium.

While his dreams are in tatters the controversy has also damaged Irish boxing's reputation. The Clonmel-born fighter will face an uphill battle with sporting authorities to have the doping offence overturned using the defence that he was unaware the substance was banned.

He faces a funding cut and he will no longer be able to train with the IABA's High Performance Unit.

O'Reilly's career has not been without controversy and he has already had brushes with the boxing authorities in the past.

In 2001 he required the intervention of a High Court judge to clear him to box in the European Youth Championships in Dublin after being dropped from the Irish team for a breach of discipline rules.


O'Reilly, who was the last Irish boxer to qualify for Rio, was sent home from a tournament in Turkey earlier this year and fined a reported €5,000 for an unspecified breach of discipline. The fine was later waived.

The young boxer has been trained by IABA president Pat Ryan and the controversy surrounding him will prove embarrassing for Mr Ryan.

It is not yet known when O'Reilly will return to Ireland but he will no longer be able to stay in the Olympic Village.

Since news of his failed drug test broke last Wednesday, O'Reilly has been kept separate from the other Irish boxers in Rio.