Thursday 18 January 2018

Egan dismisses fears of Olympics ban over ‘lack of testing’ but urges AIBA action

Boxer Kenneth Egan. Photo: David Maher /Sportsfile
Boxer Kenneth Egan. Photo: David Maher /Sportsfile

Bernard O’Neill

Beijing 2008 silver medallist Ken Egan has rubbished suggestions that boxing could be banned from the Olympics because of the alleged “non-existence” of the International Boxing Association’s (AIBA) out-of-competition tests for doping.

But Egan, who worked with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for a three-year term which ended last year, reckons that AIBA needs to get its act together.

 According to reports, AIBA failed to carry out any out-of-competition drugs tests in the whole of last year and did only one the year before, leaving them in danger of being cited for no-compliance with the WADA code.

 A WADA spokeswoman said: “The focus of the Partnership to Quality Programme is to identify areas of improvement and to support addressing them.

 “This is a dynamic process, which includes a two-day visit as a starting point and also involves regular follow-up contacts to ensure the recommendations made are put into practice. If WADA considers that there is no or too little follow-up from an international federation  – or any ADO [anti-doping organisation] – in terms of implementation and/or insufficient practise of the 2015 code, it can refer the case for review at any time to its independent compliance review committee, which can in turn make recommendations to WADA’s foundation board regarding compliance. This is not the case with AIBA to date.”

 The WADA report said the AIBA’s anti-doping programme had fallen “considerably short” of the requirements of the World Anti-Doping Code.

The one out-of-competition tests AIBA conducted in 2014 and 2015 was the lowest number of all of the 28 summer Olympic sports.

 The report is a worry for Irish sport given that boxing has won seven of our eight medals in all sports from the last two Olympics.

 Seven Irish boxers – Katie Taylor, Paddy Barnes, Brendan Irvine, Michael Conlan, David Oliver Joyce, Steven Donnelly and Joe Ward – have qualified for Rio 2016 so far, with two qualifiers remaining.

 “To tell the truth, I think it’s a load of hot air,” said Egan, who has retired from boxing. “Testing has always been low in boxing out of competition. It always has been that way.

 “When I was competing at the highest level, I was tested in around that amount myself,” added Egan (above).

 “It’s hot air. There’s no way boxing is going to be banned at such short notice. It’s scare tactics, but AIBA needs to get its act together.”

 A top Irish boxer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said yesterday that he had been tested on numerous occasions in 2015. The boxer’s anti-doping stance is well known.

 “I think that dope cheats should be banned for life,” he stressed. “I was tested more than 10 times last year, four times in June alone. We are getting tested.”

Meanwhile, International Boxing Association president CK Wu has vowed to address a situation where male boxers take more than 87pc of places for the Olympics.

Kellie Harrington arrived home from the World Women’s Championships with a silver medal, but the door to Rio 2016 is closed to the Dubliner because light-welter is not an Olympic weight.

 Female boxing is restricted to three Olympic weights – flyweight, lightweight and middleweight – at the Olympics, where 250 men and 36 women  – 12 in each class  – will compete.

Dean Walsh and Ray Moylette and Michael O’Reilly and Connor Wallace will not box-off for the Irish light-welter and middleweight vests for June’s Olympic qualifiers in Azerbaijan at the National Stadium tonight.

The IABA  Central Council have ruled that the four would instead be included on a 12-strong squad for a training camp in Baku, where they may face box-offs.

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