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20th Oct 2015

Pressure rises on amateur boxing chiefs as Sports Council and minister seek reasons for Billy Walsh exit

Funding on the line?

Mikey Stafford

To be a fly on the wall of the offices on the South Circular Road.

The Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) are feeling the heat after Billy Walsh quit the High Performance Unit yesterday.

Olympic silver medallist-turned-professional John Joe Nevin said the IABA should be “shamed” while double bronze winner and Rio medal prospect Paddy Barnes is worried about Walsh leaving so close to next year’s Games.

However this morning’s criticism from the chief executive of Irish Sports Council, John Treacy, will really get the blazers hot under the collar as it could possibly effect the €1.2million of government funding they receive annually.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio 1, Treacy did not try to disguise his anger, laying the blame squarely at the feet of the IABA, saying the organisation had defied the wishes of the Sports Minister Paschal Donohoe.

“We certainly were highlighting the urgency of trying to get this deal done,” said Treacy “We knew the Americans wanted him badly and we appeared not to treat it as seriously as we should.

“This clearly is the responsibility of the IABA, they are the employers of Billy Walsh. The minister was clear that he wanted to keep Billy Walsh, we were clear. The money was put down on the table but the deal broke down on the non-financial aspects.”

REPRO FREE***PRESS RELEASE NO REPRODUCTION FEE*** Minister Ring Launches Irish Sports Council Anti Ð Doping Annual Review, Dublin 6/5/2015 The Irish Sports Council today published their Anti-Doping figures for 2014. Last year, the Council conducted 1054 tests including 279 blood tests. The increased emphasis on blood testing has further developed the intelligence led approach within the Anti- Doping Programme as blood testing figures increased by 31% in 2014. Speaking at the launch, Minister of State for Sport, Michael Ring T.D commented ÒFor over 15 years, the Irish Sports Council has been entrusted by my Department to combat doping in Ireland and we are resolute that our fight against doping is constant, determined and ultimately successful. My commitment is underpinned by the fact that I have taken the opportunity in the Sport Ireland Bill, currently before the Seanad, to update the regulations on Anti-doping. We in Ireland are committed to inspiring fair play in sport and protecting the rights of clean athletes and I want to send a clear message out today that doping should not be tolerated at any level.Ó Pictured today John Treacy, Chief Executive, Irish Sports Council Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

Treacy does not believe money was at the root of the problem, but rather Walsh’s desire to be appointed director and given autonomy to run the HPU as he saw fit, without interference from the IABA council.

“It was a title he was never given,” said Treacy, who suggested he will carry out an investigation into the mess. “It was the freedom to do the job. Clearly Billy in these negotiations, in the non-financial aspects, did not feel he had the freedom to do the job. We will try to get the details on that in the next few days but we don’t know what that detail is yet.”

Treacy’s stance sheds further light on the IABA’s own statement on Monday night, in which chief executive Fergal Carruth insisted they had has done their “utmost to retain Billy Walsh as Head Coach”.

It seems the IABA council were unwilling to give Walsh the title of director, and now he will fly to Memphis this week to sign a deal that will see him take control of the US men’s and women’s teams heading to Rio.

Treacy reiterated this morning the fact that Walsh was desperate to stay in Ireland.

“Billy Walsh showed incredible flexibility around the financial aspects. He agreed to leave his full-time position in the AIBA and become a contractor.

“That’s a clear indication that Billy Walsh wanted to stay. We wanted to keep him. Money was not an issue. It broke down on the non-financial aspects,” said Treacy.

“To watch Billy Walsh, sitting on the couch and talking about being undermined and humiliated, it is appalling. To have that celebrated man treated in that way is really disappointing.”

The IABA wanted a head coach but have lost the best director they could have wished for.