IRISH SHOWJUMPER CIAN O’Connor has played down the recent controversial decision by Horse Sport Ireland to nominate him for a call-up to the Olympic squad.
Speaking to Sinead Kissane on TV3 news, O’Connor said he was not surprised by the decision
“I would’ve been one of the reserves anyway so I was always prepared to get the call up.”
O’Connor maintained his innocence, despite being disqualified from the 2008 Olympics.
“It was always my goal to get to the Olympics. People will remember that I was cleared (after 2004) but rules are rules and I had to give back the medal. My conscience is clear, though. I’ve had eight great years.
“Everyone’s entitled to their point of view. Some of that might be barstool talk, which may be misinformed.”
And the showjumper feels his experience will put him in good stead for the challenges that lie ahead.
“It’s wonderful to be able to go back. I’m possibly more humble now and have learned from mistakes.”
On his personal blog, O’Connor recently added:
“I’m absolutely over the moon at today’s news of my Olympic selection.
“I’ve just learned of my selection to compete at the London Olympics on Blue Loyd. I am delighted to have this opportunity to compete again at the Olympic Games.
“The circumstances which led to my selection are most unfortunate for Denis Lynch, however I must now focus on the job at hand and ensure that both myself and Blue Loyd are in the best possible shape for the Games.
O’Connor won the showjumping title at Athens in 2004 but his horse, Waterford Crystal, failed a drugs test and the following year the Irish rider had his gold medal taken away from him.
The International Equestrian Federation found that Waterford Crystal had two banned substances in its system during the games.
And in July, 2005, the federation’s disciplinary committee, based in Zurich, disqualified the rider and imposed a three-month ban.
O’Connor noted at the time of the verdict that he was pleased the federation had accepted that neither he nor his vet were involved in any deliberate attempt to enhance the performance of his horse.
He commented at the time: “We’re talking about a fraction of a millionth of a gram in each case. We in no way tried to affect the results of the Olympic Games with drugs.”
In a bizarre twist to the affair the ‘B’ sample of Waterford Crystal’s urine was mysteriously stolen when it was sent to a testing laboratory in Newmarket, England, and documents relating to the case were stolen in a burglary at the Irish Equestrian Federation headquarters.
O’Connor blamed the document theft and sample disappearance on personal enemies who he alleged were plotting against him.
Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa who rode Baloubet du Rouet in Athens, was named the Olympic champion in O’Connor’s place.
Additional reporting: AFP