Speaking in the wake of Michael O’Reilly’s four-year ban for an anti-doping violation the former Irish captain was matter of fact and adamant that his former High Performance team-mate can have no complaints.
O’Reilly was sent home from the 2016 Rio Olympics when it was revealed that he had tested positive for the banned substance methandienone.
The European Games champion and World bronze medallist has since argued that he unintentionally ingested the anabolic steroid while taking a supplement called ‘Falcon Labs Superdrive Testobooster Tech’ but O’Neill believes it’s an error that should never have been made.
“We were always well, well warned,” O’Neill told RTÉ 2FM’s Game On. “Anything you would necessarily need to take, whether it be shakes or whatever it may be, they would be provided to you.
“It was something I was quite vocal about at the time, as were the rest of us, and we were hugely disappointed as a team and felt a bit embarrassed because we had worked very hard over the past decade to try and build a reputation of, I suppose, just successful boxers and that the team carried themselves well.”
“Dragging the association, our medals, our successes, down like that was something that we were all quite angry about.”
O’Reilly’s former club coach at Portlaoise, and former IABA President, Pat Ryan, said that the boxer accepted he deserved a punishment but planned to appeal the severity of the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“Michael did not intentionally or knowingly ingest one supplement,” Ryan told the Irish Independent.
“The sanction was most certainly warranted regardless of the innocent, careless, or reckless mistake he made. He received a four-year ban.”
“Michael has said he will be appealing the sanction to the Court of Arbitration for Sport as he feels it is disproportionate and that it is extremely severe.”
“The one supplement that Michael took was a prohibited substance and was not an illegal substance.”
O’Neill dismissed the unintentional ingestion argument, noting how “we can argue yes or no whether it was intentional but you know not to take things.”
“You’ve been informed enough. On all the forms and in all the advice you’re given, you’re always told it’s your own responsibility, even if you’re given a supplement by a nutritionist – it’s your responsibility. There’s plenty of ways to find out, you can call the team doctor, there are apps that you can use, there’s websites you can use.”
“There was no need and no excuse for it.”