Irish boxer who failed drug test in build-up to Rio Olympics named and provisionally suspended

Irish boxer who failed drug test in build-up to Rio Olympics named and provisionally suspended
29 June 2015; Michael O'Reilly, Men's Boxing Middle 75kg gold, Team Ireland, holds up his gold medal on his return from the 2015 Baku European Games. Terminal One, Dublin Airport. Picture credit: Cody Glenn/SPORTSFILE

The Irish male boxer who allegedly tested positive for a banned substance on the eve of the Rio Olympics has been named by the Irish Examiner as 22-year-old Michael O’Reilly, writes Daniel McConnell.

Sources in Rio have revealed that the Portlaoise native was tested in recent days and a banned substance is believed to have shown up in his sample.

It has been confirmed that the A sample showed up positive and the boxer has been informed of the failed test.

IABA says it has been notified by Sport Ireland of an alleged violation of Anti-doping Rules, and the athlete in question has been provisionally suspended.

Their statement said: "The boxer can request to have a "B" sample tested but cannot participate in any competition or activity prior to the completion of an investigation under Article 8 of the Irish Anti-doping Rules.

"The Irish Athletic Boxing Association has always maintained a zero tolerance approach to doping and Irish Boxing has been one of the most widely tested sports by the National Anti-Doping Programme over the last number of years.

"IABA's policy is that doping is contrary to the spirit of sport and every member of the association has a duty to ensure that the sport is free of doping. We ensure our boxers are available for testing in and out of competition.

"The Irish Athletic Boxing Association will not be in a position to comment further until all elements of due process associated with the anti-doping programme are completed in this case."

Ensconced in the Olympic Village in Rio, O’Reilly will have the right to appeal it by having a B sample taken.

Sources have said that he will know his fate within the next 24 to 48 hours, the Irish Examiner understands.

But grave concern has been expressed from within the Irish Olympic camp as to the potential impact the news will have on the boxing team.

“This is a disaster. For this to happen on the eve of the games is hugely embarrassing,” said one senior source.

Officially, no confirmation of the alleged positive sample has been given by Sport Ireland or the Olympic Council of Ireland.

The International Boxing Association’s (AIBA) director of communications William Louis-Marie told Press Association Sport that the governing body was currently unaware of any developments regarding the reported failed test.

Louis-Marie said: “The process is that a federation must inform their respective Olympic committee and this would ultimately be passed on to us.

“Only when AIBA is made aware of any reported issue would we be in a position to take the appropriate action.”

It is understood that the boxer was subjected to a domestic test in Ireland before travelling to Rio, but news of the positive sample only emerged earlier today.

It is not clear yet what impact this alleged positive result will have or whether the boxer will appeal the result.

But O’Reilly faces the possibility of being banned from competing in the games which are due to commence tomorrow.

Team Ireland has eight boxers in total competing in the Olympics and boxing has been the most successful event for the Irish in recent games.

O’Reilly competes at middleweight. He qualified for the Games at the AIBA World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Baku in June, his first time qualifying for the Olympics.

Sport Ireland said it is precluded from making any comment on any anti-doping matters because of the quasi-judicial nature of how the system is managed.

It has never commented on any matters of this nature and would not be doing so in this instance, a spokesman told the Irish Examiner.

A spokesman for Mr Ross said he had no comment.

The world amateur Boxing Federation, the AIBA, has said it cannot confirm that an Irish boxer has failed a drugs test, despite reports. Theysay it's currently a matter for the Irish authority.

However, there has been widespread shock to the news that an Irish male boxer has allegedly tested positive for a banned substance on the eve of the Rio Olympic Games.

The news comes as the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross and Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Patrick O’Donovan extended their best wishes to the 77 members of Team Ireland as they prepare to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro from 5 to 25 August.

The Ministers were speaking ahead of their attendance at the Rio Games to represent the Government.

Minister Ross said: “I would like to extend my very best wishes to Team Ireland for the Rio Olympic Games. Ireland’s sporting prowess has come to be renowned internationally, with both those who compete and those who support our competitors, being held in high regard by all who encounter them.”

Both Ministers added their support for the global fight against doping in sport.

They said: “We look forward to supporting not just the athletes representing Ireland, but all of the clean athletes and competitors in Rio. We sincerely hope they will be performing in a doping free environment. Illegal performance enhancing substances are, to our mind, the biggest threat to the integrity of sport and we welcome all initiatives and measures, at a national level, and internationally, to protect that integrity and to protect clean athletes.”

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