Boxing Gloves on the ropesIf it were any other small country we would tut, shake our heads and think thoughts along the lines of ‘sure if there’s one at it, they’re probably all at it.’

That’s the wider damage of the news broken by the Irish Examiner newspaper here yesterday but ringing around the world that an Irish boxer had failed a dope test on the eve of an Olympic Games that has been rocked and perhaps irreversibly damaged by scepticism over the artificial enhancement of performance.

In a positive frame of mind there is certainly no hint of state sponsored doping going on here. Our procedures and our record are second to none around the world.

There is the view that every doper caught is a deterrent to the others but the battering that the Olympic ideals have taken over the last few months has never let up and now Ireland is centre stage again.

There are some who will point to Olympic Council of Ireland President’s steadfast and vocal support of Russia and then wrap it up with a failed test and draw a wholly inaccurate conclusion that we are centre stage in the doping story, and not in the good way we would like as defenders of true sport as Ministers were extolling yesterday.

The optics on this are absolutely rubbish. There is no hiding away from that. The Irish Olympic team and reputation is being hung out on every media website around the world.

One man’s abuse of the rules, whether deliberate or inadvertent, for recreational purpose or to enhance performance, has thrown dirt over everyone involved in Irish sport.

Of course it will wash off. We will enjoy the spectacle from midnight tonight. We will thrill to the spectacle of superhuman achievement that we will see in the most unlikely places from which Olympic glory spill. But there will be a shadow over it all, a feeling that the pure joy we feel in the moment will be shorter lived than in might have once been. And that is a real shame.


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