Friday 18 January 2019

Disgraced boxer Michael O'Reilly to appeal four-year ban for doping offence on eve of Olympics


Michael OReilly is to appeal a four-year ban for a doping. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Michael OReilly is to appeal a four-year ban for a doping. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Bernard O'Neill

Michael O'Reilly will appeal a Sport Ireland four-year ban for a doping offence just before Rio 2016 to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne. The sanction was handed down yesterday.

His former coach at Portlaoise BC, Pat Ryan, former president of the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA), said that the European Games middleweight champion believes a four-year ban is severe. O'Reilly (below) was sent home from the Rio after he admitted taking a banned substance. He was scheduled to fight at the Games but was provisionally sanctioned and didn't throw a punch at the 31st Olympiad.

The 24-year-old stated that he unintentionally took a supplement that may have contained a prohibited substance which he got from someone unrelated to the Ireland team.

Part of his statement at the time read that he received notification on August 4 (2016) that an adverse finding had been made against him. The adverse finding arises out of a matter which was not deliberate or intentional.

Pat Ryan, who was in Rio with O’Reilly, pointed out that the only source of income the World Elite bronze medallist had was his funding as an Elite athlete and that he had a wife and three children.

“Michael did not intentionally or knowingly ingest one supplement. The sanction was most certainly warranted regardless of the innocent, careless or reckless mistake he made. He received a four-year ban,” said Ryan last night.

“Michael has said will be appealing the sanction to the Court of Arbitration for Sport as he feels it is disproportionate and that it is extremely severe. The one supplement that Michael took was a prohibited substance and was not an illegal substance.”

O’Reilly was part of an eight-strong Irish team at the Rio Games that were acclaimed as the greatest Irish boxing team ever assembled at an Olympics.

But the squad failed to win a medal in any of the weights, with defending lightweight champion Katie Taylor and Michael Conlan, then the world champion, going out in the last-eight to disputed results to Finland’s Mira Potkonen and Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin.

Meanwhile, if O’Reilly, a World Elite bronze medallist, had received a two-year ban he could have returned to boxing this August.

He offered “sincere apology to his fellow boxers, team-mates, the Irish Athletic Boxing Association, Sport Ireland, the Olympic Council of Ireland and to all those who have supported him” after the Rio doping offence.

Irish Independent

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