Bitter result for O'Connor at end of a grilling

 

It was an early start and a very late finish to yesterday's proceedings in a conference room at Zurich aiport, writes Grania Willis Equestrian Correspondent

The hearing yesterday to decide whether Ireland's only medallist in Athens should keep his gold was, perhaps in deference to its Zurich airport venue, held in the Wright Brothers room.

Not surprisingly, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) judicial hearing was the only meeting at the Unique Conference Centre yesterday. No-one else wanted to be in conference on Easter Sunday.

Things began early, despite the loss of an hour overnight. Just before 8am FEI press officer Muriel Faienza appeared bearing gifts. She had brought Easter eggs for the news-hungry journalists, Swiss chocolate of course, maybe with the intention of sweetening us up. But there was no sugaring the pill that was being presented to Cian O'Connor. Room 819 was being set up for a grilling.

Wordwave, a London-based court reporting firm, had sent over three members of staff. Every syllable was being recorded, both on tape and by a 240-words- a- minute stenographer.

The FEI's three witnesses, all prefaced by doctor, were called in during the morning session.

As darkness fell and the blinds in the five rooms booked by the FEI went into automatic closure mode, there was still no white smoke.

Wasn't the 40 days in the wilderness supposed to end on Easter Sunday?

The result emerged at 10.30pm, almost 13 hours after the doors of room 819 had been hermetically sealed to keep out eavesdroppers.

Cian O'Connor came out to say that, although he had been cleared of a deliberate attempt to enhance Waterford Crystal's performance, Ireland's only medal from Athens was gone.