Ireland will miss the Olympic team showjumping event at Rio 2016 after the court of arbitration for sport rejected their complaint over a bizarre incident at the European championships in August.
The Irish rider Cian O’Connor was on course for a clear round until he appeared to be distracted by a member of the ground staff running across the arena during the event in Aachen which doubled as the Olympic qualifying contest.
Television pictures showed a staff member, wearing a yellow shirt, running across O’Connor’s path and jumping into a flower bed. The Irishman’s horse knocked down the next fence.
The incident cost Ireland a place in Rio as they finished one place below Spain and out of the Olympic qualifying spots. If O’Connor had gone clear, the positions would have been reversed.
Ireland had already had an appeal against the result rejected by the International Equestrian Federation. Cas did not give any reasons for its decision. “The Cas panel has issued only its decision today, without the grounds, which will follow in the coming weeks,” Cas said in a statement.
In 2005, O’Connor was involved in another contentious incident related to the Olympics. Ireland was stripped of the only gold medal its team had won at the 2004 Games in Athens when it was ruled that Waterford Crystal, the horse ridden by O’Connor, had been given banned substances.