Monday 20 January 2020

Boxer O'Reilly is out of Rio after admitting taking banned item

Boxer Michael O’Reilly. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Boxer Michael O’Reilly. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Sean McGoldrick

Michael O'Reilly's Olympic dream came to an end yesterday after he admitted unintentionally taking a banned supplement prior to the Games.

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 drugs test.

The news that O'Reilly (23) had tested positive broke last Thursday. The five-day saga surrounding his failed test drew to a close last night when the middleweight issued a statement admitting that he "unintentionally took a supplement that may have contained a prohibited substance".

O'Reilly stressed that he was given a "supplement by someone unrelated to his team or association".

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

O'Reilly has left the Olympic village in Rio but there is still confusion over whether he has left Brazil.

Read more: 'Probably the most idiotic decision he has ever made': Bernard Dunne didn't hold back when slamming Michael O'Reilly

Read more: Michael O’Reilly faces two year ban after being expelled from Olympics

Assistant Irish boxing coach Eddie Bolger said as far as he knew O'Reilly was on his way home. However, an official statement issued by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) only confirmed that O'Reilly had left the Olympic village and would have no further involvement in the Rio Olympic Games. "The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) will be making arrangements for him to return to Ireland as soon as possible," said the statement.

When news of his failed test broke, O'Reilly declared that he would be boxing as planned on Friday and opted for first an appeal and then a testing of his second sample following crisis talks with his lawyers.

O'Reilly had been tipped to win a medal by many just before the Olympic Games but his last-16 opponent will now get a bye into the quarter-finals.

He was notified of the results of the urine sample - which had been taken prior to his departure for Rio - on the eve of last week's opening ceremony.

In a 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.

"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.

"Mr O'Reilly received notification on 4 August 2016 that an adverse finding had been made against him. The adverse finding arises out of a matter which was not deliberate or intentional."

In its statement, the IABA said: "We are disappointed that Michael may have taken any supplement without consulting the IABA High Performance Support Team. Educating athletes of the risks proposed by supplements is provided to all our boxers as part of the High Performance Programme.

"We note he has offered his sincere apology to his fellow team members, IABA, Sport Ireland and the Olympic Council of Ireland."

Irish Independent

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