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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 4 August, 2020

"It comes back to him at the end of the day" - Boxing community reacts after Michael O'Reilly leaves Olympic Games

Michael O’Reilly is due back in Ireland by Friday after he was sent home from the Olympics.

Michael O'Reilly.
Michael O'Reilly.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

THE AMATUER BOXING community has reacted after one of Ireland’s Olympics competitors was sent home for failing a doping test, the first time it has ever happened in Irish Olympic history.

Irish boxer Michael O’Reilly left the Olympic Games yesterday evening, after announcing that he would not be lodging an appeal against a suspension after he was found to have failed a doping test.

News that he had failed the test broke last Thursday evening, and the 23-year-old boxer yesterday admitted to having taken a supplement which may have contained a banned substance.

O’Reilly is the first Irish Olympic athlete to have ever been sent home from the Olympics for a doping violation, and attention can now turn again to the rest of the boxing team’s hopes.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning, captain of the Irish boxing team at the London 2012 Olympic Games Darren O’Neill said that the team could now move on following the controversy.

“Thankfully it’s out of the way now and the controversy can be left behind for the guys that are still there,” said O’Neill.

“Unfortunately it happened now so I think Michael has to deal with the consequences.

Darren O'Neill Darren O'Neill. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

O’Neill said that all athletes are well-informed on what they can and can’t take, and that the ultimate responsibility comes down to the competitor themselves.

“Whatever you put into your body it’s your responsibility to be aware of what’s in that,” said O’Neill.

“We’ve all been well educated on that and well informed on that and it comes back to him at the end of the day.

It can be as simple as a wrong cough bottle.

The former Irish captain said that the boxers left at the Games were ”happy to have it behind them”.

“Getting to put the issue to bed once and for all will definitely be a weight off their shoulders,” he said.

They’re just happy to have it behind them and to get back to their job.

Former world bantamweight champion Bernard Dunne also had strong words for O’Reilly yesterday, saying that ‘he let the people of Ireland down’.

“He’s let the people of Ireland down, but more than anybody he’s let himself down and he’s that one that’s going to have to live with that for the rest of his life,” he said on RTÉ’s Olympic coverage.

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Bernard Dunne File photo of Bernard Dunne. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Kept in the dark”

Speaking yesterday, Irish boxing coach Eddie Bolger said that he had been “kept in the dark” over what was happening with the issue.

“As far as I know now, he has dropped his appeal and is on his way home,” Bolger said.

To be honest lads, and I’m a fairly open person, we’ve been kept in the dark. As far as I know, he is on his way home or is going home.

O’Neill said that the news of the doping violation would be a blow to O’Reilly’s coach and president of the Irish amateur Boxing Association (IABA) Pat Ryan.

“I think Pat has always stood by Michael through the years and for this to come is definitely a huge blow for him,” he said.

Obviously as his club coach, then to be linked as the president of the association, it’s not the kind of controversy that he want to be or needs to be involved in, but unfortunately that’s the case now.

O’Reilly is due back in Ireland before Friday. Once his case goes to an official hearing he could be facing up to four year ban from competing.

With reporting from Niall Kelly in Rio.

Read: Irish coaches ‘kept in the dark’ as Michael O’Reilly sent home in shame

Read: Irish Olympic boxer Michael O’Reilly has failed a doping test

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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