By Duncan Mackay

Cian OConnor_on_Waterford_Crystal_at_Athens_2004July 10 - Denis Lynch has been replaced in Ireland's show jumping team for London 2012 by Cian O'Connor, who was stripped of the Olympic gold medal at Athens in 2004 after his horse tested positive for banned drugs.

The decision was officially announced this afternoon by the Olympic Council for Ireland (OCI).

O'Connor will ride Blue Lloyd.

London 2012 will be a chance for the Meath-based rider to redeem himself, having been forced to hand back the gold medal he won in the Athens 2004 Olympics after his horse Waterford Crystal failed a drugs test in one of the most controversial episodes of equestrian history at the Olympics.

"The Olympic Council of Ireland has approved Horse Sport Ireland's nomination of Cian O'Connor as the second Irish show jumping rider for the Olympic Games," they said in a statement on their website today.

"The nomination was made by Horse Sport Ireland's show jumping Chef D'Equipe Robert Splaine for the combination of Cian O'Connor and his horse Blue Loyd.

"Ireland will now be represented by Billy Twomey and Cian O'Connor in the individual show jumping event in Greenwich, London, which commences on 5 August."

Lynch was disqualified from the Nations Cup last week after Lantinus was found to be suffering from sore feet and hypersensitive.

Lynch had been thrown out of the Olympics in Beijing four years ago after Lantinus had tested positive for a banned substance.

The recent incident was the third occasion a horse ridden by the Tipperary man had been withdrawn from competition due to hypersensitivity in 12 months.

The German-based rider is expected to appeal the withdrawal of his nomination, but has been informed there is no HSI appeals process and he may do so directly with the Olympic Council of Ireland or the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

"I am devastated to relate that my nomination for the Olympic place in London has been withdrawn," said Lynch.

"At this stage, we are considering an appeal.

"However, although we have the right to appeal the decision this morning, we have been informed no appeal process is in place.

"This again, we find very unusual."

O'Connor was banned for three months after his disqualification in Athens when two human drugs were found in a urine sample taken from his horse Waterford Crystal. 

Horse Sport Ireland's chief executive Damian McDonald, expressed confidence in O'Connor, claiming that since Athens he had "no infringements of any rules since then whatsoever".

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