Irish boxer fails Olympics drugs test

Irish boxer fails Olympics drugs test
Michael O’Reilly, Ireland, on the podium with his Men’s Middleweight 75kg bronze medal. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Irish boxer Michael O’Reilly has been provisionally suspended from the 2016 Olympic Games after it was revealed that he had allegedly failed a drugs test.

The 23-year-old has a week to clear his name or he will be struck off from competing in Rio, as his first fight is scheduled for next Friday.

Following the positive test, O’Reilly has the right to request a B-sample and it has been reported that he intends to do so.

The Portlaoise fighter, who won gold in the middleweight division at June’s World Qualifiers in Baku, was tested before leaving for Brazil.

He previously hit the headlines following another qualifying event in Turkey when he was sent home and fined £5,000 for bringing Irish boxing into disrepute.

Last night the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) said: “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.”

Ireland has won 16 of its 29 Olympic medals in boxing, making it their most successful sport at the Games.

The captain of the Irish boxing team for the London Olympics in 2012, Darren O’Neill, told RTÉ that the allegations could affect the whole Olympic squad.

“It’s just a disappointing outcome,” he said. “Not just for the boxers there but for the likes of myself, Kenneth Egan and Adam Nolan who have been doing this for many years.

“For Billy Walsh who built it up and to be honest even for the IABA President [Pat Ryan] who had been coaching Michael O’Reilly and would have been training Michael right up until the week they went away.”

The 31st Summer Games officially get underway this evening with the opening ceremony in the Maracana Stadium. Around 11,000 athletes will parade around the stadium in front of 50,000 spectators and a worldwide television audience estimated at three billion.

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