Shamed Olympic boxer vows to fight again

Michael O'Reilly
Michael O'Reilly

SHAMED OLYMPIC boxer Michael O’Reilly this week broke his silence to vow to the Sunday World: "I will be back in the ring."

Speaking for the first time since being booted out of the Olympics over a failed drugs test, O'Reilly also insisted his fight to clear his name is not over.

The Sunday World approached O'Reilly, who is facing a maximum four-year ban from the sport, outside his home in Mountrath on Thursday, where the shock and disappointment of his exit from the tournament was still evident.

When asked if rumours that he had turned his back on boxing had any foundation, Michael told us: "That’s not true. I will [box again], but I've no other comment.

"When this is all over I'll release a statement and that'll be very shortly."

The failed dope test that cost O'Reilly a shot at Olympic Gold has already come at a high financial cost for the Portlaoise man.

He is set to lose out on €20,000 in the State funding he was due for the remainder of this year. 

The payment is part of a podium grant system, of which half of the €40,000 had already been paid prior to the Olympics. 

The talented 23-year-old's career as a boxer, which would likely have seen him turn professional in the near future, is now hanging by a thread.

Although he is not currently banned, he is facing a ban of between two and four years when his case is finalised.

O'Reilly has previously stated that his positive sample was a result of taking a supplement given to him by "someone unrelated to his team or his association". 

His solicitor, despite the constant warnings to athletes not to do so, will strongly make the point that it was a mistake.

In a statement issued after his exit from Rio, O'Reilly apologised to his team-mates.

"The adverse finding arises out of a matter which was not deliberate or intentional," the statement read.

"Having received further information, Mr O'Reilly now freely admits that he unintentionally took a supplement that may have contained a prohibited substance. 

"Mr O'Reilly was given this supplement by someone unrelated to his team or association.

"Mr O'Reilly disclosed, at the time of the test, that he had taken the supplement.

O'Reilly tells our man he will clear his name

"Mr O'Reilly offers his sincere apology to his fellow boxers, his team-mates, the Irish Athletic Boxing Association, Sport Ireland, the Olympic Council of Ireland and all those who have supported him."

Claiming a supplement was contaminated is an excuse many athletes have used in the past but authorities now apply a policy of 'strict liability' that places responsibility for consuming such a substance squarely on the shoulders of the athlete.

A two-year ban would mean that O'Reilly will not box again until he is 25, while a four-year ban would have the potential to finish his career.

For the duration of the ban, he will not be allowed to associate or compete against any boxers in the Irish system, nor will he be allowed to compete against anyone outside of Ireland.

Nor are the issues facing O'Reilly confined to the boxing ring.

The Sunday World revealed last month how his attendance at the Rio Games came after he was granted three months bail on foot of his arrest on a public order-related bench warrant.

The boxer was arrested on July 7 on foot of the warrant after he failed to show up in court on public order charges.

The court heard he was charged with a number of public order offences at Ballybeg, Littleton, Thurles, on April 18.

The Irish middleweight failed to appear in court to meet the charges on May 3 and a bench warrant for his arrest was issued.

He is scheduled to appear before the court on September 27.