by Matt Weik
There’s nothing that frustrates me more than cheaters who get caught cheating and want to blame everything under the sun in hopes that it clears their name rather than looking in the mirror and taking their consequences like a man. It couldn’t be their fault, right? Of course not! Olympic athlete, Michael O’Reilly, an Irish middleweight boxer did just that like a coward would.
On the eve of opening ceremonies for the Rio Olympic games, O’Reilly was told he couldn’t compete after testing positive for a banned substance and was told he needed to leave the Olympic Village and to go home. Upon his arrival back in Ireland, he went on television and blasted the supplement industry blaming his positive drug test on a supplement he was taking—yet he makes no mention of names which is unusual. Normally if you were blaming a product you would expose the product or get the product tested to show the lab results—none of which has happened and I don’t expect it to. This leads me to believe O’Reilly is simply blaming the supplement industry like so many other athletes have done in the past when in reality, THEY know they were using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) but needed a quick exit and redirection of blame. O’Reilly said he obtained the “supplement” from someone outside of his team and association. So again, he KNEW what he was doing isn’t protocol and should have known the risks involved.
O’Reilly, like all the other Irish boxers, are overseen by the Irish Athletic Boxing Association who gives out documentation on what products the athletes should stay away from as they are not approved for use. The question arises as to why O’Reilly would stray away from the list he was provided? Or at least ask the question to the IABA if a certain product is safe for use? The IABA provided a statement after O’Reilly came out blaming a supplement for his positive drug test saying, “we are very disappointed that Michael [O’Reilly] may have taken any supplement without consulting the IABA High Performance Support Team. Educating athletes of the risks proposed by supplements is provided to all our boxers as part of the High Performance Program.”
With all of that being said above, if it was indeed a supplement that was tainted, one would think O’Reilly would expose that product so that no other athletes take it and also get banned from competition. Also, using products that weren’t on the approved list from the IABA is simply stupid on his part and he should know better. Or at least he should know how to get clean before a drug test so nothing shows up. That’s honestly amateurish as most athletes know the protocol to get around drug tests if they are using PEDs. This is nothing new in the world of sports and athletics. If there is a competition, athletes will look for ways to get an edge on their competition—and many go the route of PED use.
A fellow boxer, Eric Donovan, also decided to throw his hat in the ring and give his two cents, as if anyone cared to hear what he has to say. Donovan said on a television interview that “supplements—especially over the counter—you just don’t know what’s in them.” That’s a pretty bold statement. Maybe Donovan also has something he’s like to share? Maybe he himself is using PEDs and wants to make it known that he doesn’t trust supplements just in case he gets pinned at some point as well and can fall back and say “see, I told you that you can’t trust supplements.”
I think everyone is naïve if they think top athletes aren’t using some sort of PED. Do you really think that we have evolved that much that all of a sudden our bodies are through time getting stronger and are able to perform at higher levels than in the past? That our muscles are able to take on that much more than years prior? Sure, there’s better training and recovery techniques these days but overall I’m not buying it and neither should you. I’m of the belief that professional athletes should be able to use whatever they want. I honestly don’t care. I’m not paying to go see athletes that perform at a level that I can achieve. I’m paying to see athletes who are out of this world. Some will agree with me, many will not. But that’s ok, it’s my personal belief.
Supplement companies of today are taking measures to prevent such false accusations against them. These companies are strengthening their quality control measures put in place, following extremely tough Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) regulations and certifications, as well as having their products tested and approved by groups such as NSF International who approves products and deems them safe for athletes to use.
With all of this said, you will always have athletes who go off the beaten path and do their own thing outside of what is “approved”. And honestly, most of them will never get caught if they know what they are doing and how to clean their system before a drug test. Athletes have been doing this for years and getting away with it. Blaming a supplement company for tainting a product that really isn’t tainted is foolish. If you get caught, own up to it and take the consequences like a man. As they say, you’ve done the crime now do the time. It could be a slap on the wrist to something like what happened to O’Reilly where he was banned from competing in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. He only has himself to blame—no one else should be taking the blame for him, especially not a supplement company who was never even named (so ultimately, he put blame on the entire supplement industry by not give up the company name and specific product). He knew what he was doing. He knew what he was doing was wrong. There’s no getting around it. He made the conscious decision to take a product or substance that was not on the approved list. And now he was caught. Put blame where the blame is, and it’s on the athlete himself. There was no tainted supplement. He got caught with an illegal substance in his system that I’m sure didn’t come from any over the counter supplement when he was tested for the Olympic Games. That’s on him, not the supplement industry.