Groups urged to back Michael O’Reilly from a backlash

Former European medallist and RTÉ pundit Eric Donovan has called on Irish sports bodies to support Michael O’Reilly from a backlash to his reported suspension from the Olympic Games for an anti-doping violation.
Groups urged to back Michael O’Reilly from a backlash yesterday revealed the news that rocked Irish sport on the same day the draw for boxing at the Games took place in Rio.

O’Reilly is yet to be named as the offending athlete, but the 23-year-old middleweight is understood to have returned “an adverse analytical finding in an A-sample” from a pre-tournament test conducted in Ireland.

The Portlaoise clubman is believed to have been provisionally suspended pending a decision on whether a request will be made for a B-sample will be tested or an appeal to the suspension.

Donovan pleaded for Sport Ireland and the Irish Athletic Boxing Association to support O’Reilly. “If it is positive then I think Michael needs to get the support of the people around him, the support of Sport Ireland and the IABA,” said Donovan, a five-time Irish Elite champion.

“He has to take full responsibility for this if the allegations are true. He’ll have to use the people around him to build himself back up and make a life for himself because he has an incredible talent. It’s going to be a tough time for him and I hope he gets good people around him.”

The news came a short time after the boxing draw had given O’Reilly a bye to the last 16 in the 75kg division.

Donovan said he had “tipped him to medal before he went out there, and he’s going to be devastated”.

Meanwhile, Olympic silver medallist Ken Egan also claimed O’Reilly would have won a medal in Rio.

“He definitely had a realistic chance of winning a medal. He’s so talented… it’s just his discipline was questionable over the years,” said Egan. “It’s an awful shock and an awful shame,” added Egan, speaking to Newstalk’s Off The Ball.

The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) last night confirmed that the Sport Ireland Anti-Doping Agency “had returned an adverse analytical finding in an A-sample provided to anti-doping officers”, but maintained the athlete’s identity will for now remain confidential.

The OCI outlined that the athlete in question can either “accept a sanction for a doping violation, request that a B-sample be tested, or appeal the provisional suspension”.

A statement from the Irish Athletic Boxing Association said it “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.”


Olympic boxer Michael O'Reilly suspended following drugs test fail

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

Ireland's preparations for Olympics in tatters as Michael O'Reilly suspended

Michael O’Reilly’s Olympic path has been a rocky road

Irish athlete not the first to take a hit for positive test

Irish Olympics scandal: Failed test ‘no innocent mistake’

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up


Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.


Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox