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O'Reilly was not at training camp in build-up to Rio, reveals coach

By Sean McGoldrick

Published 15/08/2016

Slammed: Michael O’Reilly
Slammed: Michael O’Reilly

The Michael O'Reilly saga took another sensational turn last night with the revelation that the boxer, who was sent home from the Games after failing a dope test, was absent from the Irish training camp prior to the team's departure to Rio.

In a scathing attack on O'Reilly, assistant Irish boxing coach John Conlan - who is the father of Belfast's Michael Conlan, a winner yesterday - said the boxer had "embarrassed the country, embarrassed boxing, embarrassed AIBA".

But it was Conlan's revelation that O'Reilly hadn't trained with the rest of the Irish squad for eight weeks before their departure to Rio which will have caused more headaches for the Irish Athletic Boxing Association.

"We had a devastating start to this tournament. I'm not going to go over it much but that guy (Michael O'Reilly) didn't train with us - he hasn't (trained) with us for eight weeks," he said.

"We met him in the airport, he wasn't part of my team. He arrived in there, shocked us, embarrassed the country, embarrassed boxing, embarrassed AIBA. We had to deal with it," said Conlan.

For some of the time during the eight weeks prior to the team's journey to Rio, O'Reilly was in Baku - initially in a training camp and then participating in the final Olympic qualifying tournament, which he won on June 25 to become the final Irish boxer to qualify for the Games.

There was then a 24-day gap between the end of the tournament in Baku and the boxers' flight to Rio.

O'Reilly was in the National Stadium on July 2 for a test match between the Irish Olympic squad and a visiting Russian team. He was introduced to the crowd but didn't participate in the boxing.

Meanwhile, world amateur champion Conlan strongly defended the record of the current coaching team.

"People giving the Irish boxing coaches stick is very annoying. It's adding pressure, unneeded pressure," he said.

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