Michael O’Reilly will NOT request a B sample test but in an unusual twist appears to have elected to pursue a ‘Direct Appeal’ process, according to usually reliable sources in the Brazilian capital.
The 23 years old Clonmel-born boxer’s appeal will be heard, not in Rio, but by Sport Ireland’s Anti-Doping disciplinary panel here in Ireland as that was where the original failed test took place. That team is headed by Sport Ireland’s ‘Anti-Doping” supremo Dr Una May.
The Panel has the power to determine whether an anti-doping rule violation has been committed and/or the consequences to be imposed pursuant to
the Rules for an anti-doping rule violation found to have been committed. Dr May oversees the Anti-Doping team in her role as Director of Participation and Ethics at ‘Sport Ireland’.
It is ‘unusual’ but ‘not unique’ for an athlete to choose such a route as most opt for the ‘B test’ ; it means he can choose from several options including something he took ‘inadvertently’ which had been tampered with OR arguably ‘ingesting something from the prohibited list but with “no fault or negligence” on his part’.
It is not as yet known what banned substance caused the positive result in the A sample.
If as expected O’Reilly goes down that route it will NOT be the first time that an Irish athlete has appealed on such grounds though it is a first as far as the Olympic Games and Irish teams are concerned.
Some 13 years ago in 2003 Geraldine Hendricksen appealed on similar grounds arguing that a test carried out in an athletics event, was due to legitimate supplements she had been taking and that this alone was the cause of her failing a routine doping test. The B sample result was handled by a laboratory in Germany but confirmed what the A sample had shown and subsequently the athlete received a 2 years ban from all athletic competitions.
Meantime since the O’Reilly news broke he has been kept apart from the rest of the team in the Olympic Village and not allowed to participate in any training events. He is seeded no.3 in his weight category but received a bye when Thursday’sdraw took place. His first fight is due to take place on Friday next – and a win there would put him through to the quarter finals in the middleweight (75kg) division.
The outcome of any appeal is therefore a matter of some urgency so it is likely to likely to be dealt with early in week ahead. It will however be ‘extremely difficult’ for the Portlaoise boxer to succeed on such grounds according to informed sources and should that prove to be the case then his Olympic Games would be over before they had even begun.
Any ban imposed – if the appeal is lost – is likely to be for two years or thereabouts in which case he may well be feel that his best option is to quit the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) and turn to the Professional sport for a future career. His club coach, Pat Ryan, co-incidentally also current President of the IABA, is due to travel to Rio on Sunday.
It will be a sombre reunion and an awkward one for Ryan in more ways than one as he will undoubtedly be besieged by the World (but especially the Irish) media who are already extremely unhappy that the news of the failed test was ‘leaked’ to the Irish Examiner’s Political correspondent Daniel McConnell in Ireland before Irish boxing HPU’s Interim Head Coach Zuar Antia or any of his team or those of the Olympic Council were aware.
The next 48 hours will be vital for not only O’Reilly but all of the Irish boxing team who must then carry on and hope that they can realise their own dreams.