Boxing: Shane Ross needs to give some straight answers to these questions

As we reported earlier, Sport Ireland said on Saturday evening that  Michael O’Reilly’s legal representatives  have confirmed his intention to appeal and  thus they will convene an independent disciplinary panel, which is likely to meet within next ‘24/48 hours’. That hearing will be in Dublin and not in Rio.


As we said yesterday, there is no clear idea as yet as to on what grounds the appeal will be launched – did he inadvertently take a substance from the official ‘banned list’ for instance? Or will he seek exemption  based on ‘therapeutic or medical use’ .The substance itself has not also been divulged thus far. It is likely that O’Reilly himself could appear – via Skype Conference Call – but most of the discussion is likely to be handled by his advisers.


There is yet another possible delay of course and that is EVEN IF  he is ‘cleared’ by the Sport Ireland ‘Anti-Doping disciplinary panel’, there could well be an appeal to the Court of Arbitration by world body WADA or even by the Sport’s own Governing Body, AIBA International Boxing Association or both. Any such further appeals might not even be heard until hours before the first fight.


As we know, interim Head Coach  Zuar Antia and his able assistants had NOT been made aware of the ‘O’Reilly bombshell’ until after the news had already been ‘leaked’ in Dublin by a person or persons unknown.

That this news was leaked to the ‘Irish Examiner’s Political correspondent Daniel McConnell raises several questions the most important being ‘ who leaked it and why?’.


At this moment one can but seek answers so today SportsNews Ireland poses these important questions:


1.            To Minister of Sport, Shane Ross:

When did you (and YOUR department) first become aware of the failed test? Did your or any member of YOUR team ‘tip off’ Daniel McConnell either directly or indirectly and if so why?


2.            To the Irish Athletic Boxing Association CEO, Fergal Carruth :

When were YOU first informed and did you IMMEDIATELY alert your HPU coaching team in Rio? If not why not?


3: To the Irish Sports Council CEO John Treacy: when were YOU (or your team) informed by Dr Una May of the failed test? Did you IMMEDIATELY inform Chairman Kieran Mulvey ? And who from the Sports Council picked up the phone and informed the IABA President Pat Ryan and/or CEO, Fergal Carruth?



On the face of it, it seems that there has been little effort made to protect Zuar Antia, John Conlan or Eddie Bolger from the media circus and naturally they were deeply shocked …and hurt ,when the news broke. As you or I would be if let down by your own country’s sporting bodies.



It is true that once the failed test was known, then the Olympic Council P.R.O  correctly refused to answer any specific questions from the media as that might well have prejudiced any future appeal by O’Reilly but why did the OCI Chef de Mission and or their experienced Press Officer not  take the initiative and explain clearly and in a ‘ quieter environment’ the exact reasons why they could not elaborate. Why did they not also get Joe Hennigan as boxing Team Manager involved? He too seemed ‘shocked’ when he first heard the news. Why have a Team Manager ‘on site’ and then not inform him IMMEDIATELY of such a major development?


The IABA has an excellent P.R.O, Bernard O’Neill in Ireland yet he has NOT ever been invited by the IABA to accompany the team to any  non-domestic tournament. No, NOT even London 2012, NOT an AIBA World or EUBC European Championships.  On, there is also another listed Media contact, named Robert Connolly who also doubles up as Commercial Manager and works closely with Fergal Carruth. Where was he? Was HE ‘kept in the loop’ and if so did he advise his immediate boss and recommend that Joe Hennigan be informed?


On the basis of what has happened not only in Rio but on previous occasions, perhaps it is also time that the Sports Minister, Shane Ross, answers not only our questions posed above but also calls both the OCI and Sport Ireland for an urgent review of the IABA as an organisation. It is well funded by the Government agencies and indirectly by taxpayers so one should not just “sweep everything under the carpet” and hope that yet another ‘scandal’ disappears. Remember Billy Walsh?


Some within Ireland say today that a  Boxing organisation is called for – one that represents all of the Irish clubs, North and South, East and West and is not controlled only by the small but influential band  known as IABA LTD and subject to agreements with such as ‘the Boxing Council’. Who are these men and women and who elected them?


First off though let Minister Ross set up and ‘independent’ inquiry into this week’s fiasco chaired by an ‘independent’ Chair person who is given the authority to ‘summon’ all of the interested parties.


Time too that this august body published their annual accounts explaining in detail what expenses were incurred and how the moneys received from Government and others have been spent.

We’ve been here before yet no lessons appear to have been learnt and yet at AGM’s they are more or less ‘unaccountable’ as motions are often not even published in advance. Yet they usually escape because of the great success story of Irish boxing, albeit that is due more to not only the High Performance Unit coaches but club coaches and officials throughout the country.


Time for change?  Only four years now to Tokyo 2020 and after the Billy Walsh fiasco more than time for Kieran Mulvey and John Treacy to intervene again but this time with greater success.







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