Saturday 22 October 2016

'One Lemsip' could cause failed test, - O'Reilly's boxing pal

Olympic boxer Michael O'Reilly. Photo: Getty Images
Olympic boxer Michael O'Reilly. Photo: Getty Images
Boxer Michael O'Reilly's Portlaoise Boxing Club
Tony Flanagan
Leon McDonald from Portlaoise Town.
John Keavey from Portlaoise Town.
Pat Ryan

Boxer Michael O'Reilly passed several random blood tests in recent months and his "bombshell" doping scandal could have an innocent explanation, his training partner has said.

Patrick Ryan is the son of O'Reilly's trainer Pat and often helped European champion O'Reilly train at Portlaoise Boxing Club.

"Something as simple as a Lemsip Max could cause a fail," said Ryan (29).

"Michael was tested 15 times in the last three years and, in the last three or four months, he was tested five times. They were all random and he passed them all."

Speaking at the Ryan family home in Portlaoise, he said his father, who is also president of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA), was in Dublin for meetings about the dope test result.

"My dad is devastated. He's flying to Rio on Sunday," he said.

Mr Ryan cited the example of an Irish swimmer who once failed a test because of the use of an inhaler and who was later cleared.

He hoped there would be a similar favourable outcome for O'Reilly.

"I've often been in the gym helping with his training. This result is a disaster," he said.

"It's a bombshell. My dad was his coach since he was 12 or 13.

"Michael was on the phone last night and he was massively upset. It's his dream to get to the Olympics.

"He was number two in the world. His whole life is in turmoil."


Throughout Portlaoise yesterday, shock and dis- appointment were expressed by residents of the town where the local boxer was their Olympic hope.

"People are very disappointed. We know that Michael had put his heart and soul into boxing," said hair stylist Leon McDonald, who knows the boxer.

"People have their fingers crossed in the hope a second test will come back clear.

"After all the time and effort he has put in, this could ruin his chance of getting a medal.

"Everyone feels bad for Pat Ryan who has trained numerous champions.

"Michael has a great following in Portlaoise. All the young lads look up to him.

"I saw the news on social media and it was a shock. Hopefully there's a simple explanation."

Local barber Eugene Deegan (42) described it "as a very sad day".

"I've often cut Michael's hair and his father's hair and he's a good chap who has done a lot of good for young people in Portlaoise.

"I don't know if he can bounce back from this. Everyone is upset for him and his family. I was stuck to the ground with shock when I heard.

"The town was really looking forward to it. I had flags ready to put up. It was the same excitement as the Euros."

Richard O'Brien (61) said the boxer was expected to come home with an Olympic medal.

"He's done so much for the town. I hope the people stand by him."

Aleksandra Skalska (19), who boxed at the local club as a young girl, said she was "really surprised" at the failed blood test.

"I'm hoping it may prove to be something like antibiotics or something that caused the failed test."

Local woman Mary Byrne (54) said: "I feel let down. There's so much bad news in the world and the Olympics was going to be a great good news story.

"He should have been a local hero. This is a let-down."

Brian Smith (31) said: "I thought he was going to win. It looks like it could be his own fault."

"Team spirit is very important," said John Keavey (77). "I've been in plenty of team events, including judo, and the spirit of the team is vital. I hope they can get over this."

"This is a very sad day for Portlaoise and for the local boxing club," added former boxing club member Tony Flanagan.

He said O'Reilly was "the best boxer ever to come out of Portlaoise".

"The town had been on a high looking forward to the Olympics," he said.

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