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Page last updated at 17:36 GMT, Friday, 22 August 2008 18:36 UK

Irish embarrassed by doping case

Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey
Pat Hickey said the doping scandal was embarrassing

Ireland's participation in future Olympic equestrian events has been jeopardised by a doping scandal, a leading official has warned.

Pat Hickey, president of the country's Olympic Council, was speaking in the wake of showjumper Denis Lynch's suspension over a doping offence.

"I said before I left that Ireland would not be involved in a doping scandal of any nature," Hickey said.

"And unfortunately this has now become a huge embarrassment for the country."

The dope testing result is a devastating blow for Irish equine sport, which is still haunted by memories of showjumper Cian O'Connor being stripped of his gold medal in Athens in 2004.

Hickey said he was appalled by the scandal involving the sportsman, claiming it created serious problems for the Irish equine industry.

"I think it is more serious for the equestrian sport and also for the horse industry in Ireland because there is a vote next year on which sports will remain in the Olympic programme, and which will go out.

"There seem to be too many situations like this.

"So I think, from what I hear from colleagues, that this sport could be in serious difficulties for next year's vote whether they remain in the programme or not."

Lynch admitted he had used Equi-Block - which contains the banned substance capsaicin - for years to loosen up horses' muscles but denied he did anything knowingly wrong.

Three other riders, Germany's Christian Ahlmann, on Coster, Brazil's Bernado Alves, on Chupa Chup, and Norway's Tony Andre Hansen, on Camiro, were also provisionally suspended by the International Equestrian Federation for using the same substance.

Damian McDonald, chief executive of Horse Sport Ireland, branded Lynch's withdrawal a devastating blow but claimed pulling the sport from the Olympics was not the answer.

"We need to look at how we can restore confidence in the sport," he said.

see also
Olympic horses fail drugs tests
21 Aug 08 |  Equestrian
Lamaze clinches show jumping gold
21 Aug 08 |  Equestrian
Van Grunsven claims historic gold
19 Aug 08 |  Equestrian
US clinch team show jumping gold
18 Aug 08 |  Equestrian

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