Coach Billy Walsh’s absence from the Irish Olympic set-up has reignited tensions within the national boxing set-up as to why he resigned.
The news comes as boxer Paddy Barnes was surprisingly defeated in Rio yesterday by Spaniard Samuel Carmona Heredia on a split decision.
Despite his suspension, boxer Michael O’Reilly took to Twitter to commiserate with Barnes on his shock exit from the Olympic Games: “Hard luck @paddyb_ireland taught you did enough to win that.”
On Mr Walsh’s departure last year, the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) came in for sharp criticism from Sport Ireland’s top brass, John Treacy and Kieran Mulvey, for allowing him to leave. But the O’Reilly drug test controversy has led to a bitter war of words within the boxing fraternity.
“This is a disaster. People wouldn’t listen. We fought a row a few months ago that got a lot of publicity. Why weren’t people listening?” said one senior Sport Ireland source.
However, given the crisis now engulfing the team, Mr Walsh’s absence from the team and his departure has again been highlighted.
“We don’t have Billy Walsh, we don’t have him marshalling the team, putting a ring around them and the curtain of protection,” said the source.
“Mulvey and Treacy went out on a limb on this but, look, most of the people agreed with us but not everybody including Michael Ring who told us to back off. Leave the lads alone, they are winning medals. We knew what Billy Walsh did, and what he meant to the boxers.
“Then why are Kieran Mulvey and John Treacy fighting to keep Billy Walsh and these are the guys who win our medals? Now they have their fucking answer.
“This is terribly embarrassing.”
Following a weekend of tumult, Barnes was eliminated from the Men’s light flyweight competition.
The Belfast boxer, who won bronze in London four years ago and four years before that in Beijing, was beaten by split decision against Spain’s Samuel Carmona Heredia.
Two of the judges awarded the fight 29-28 to Carmona, with a third judge giving it to Barnes by the same score. The Irish team captain had started slowly, losing the opening round before fighting back to claim the second.
However, the judges deemed that Carmona had edged the third.
Afterwards, Barnes said: “I’ve no energy, I shouldn’t be fighting at this weight. Even if I’d won I’d be embarrassed in the next fight.”
Coach Eddie Bolger said he was disappointed Barnes lost saying the result was “a bit of a shock”.
“It is a bit of a blow obviously, but we now have to focus on the rest of the team,” he said.
Meanwhile, O’Reilly has sought to have his B sample tested ahead of his first scheduled fight on Friday.
It had been thought that the most likely course of action the Tipperary boxer would take would be to directly appeal his ban on the basis of inadvertent use of a prohibited substance.
However, a request to have the ‘B’ sample tested would imply that O’Reilly believes the positive test on the ‘A’ sample was incorrect. Any test on the ‘B’ sample is likely to take a number of days to conduct.
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