Irish Paralympian Patrick O’Leary has been appointed to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) Athlete Council, giving our sport a strong voice in the global fight against sport doping.

The two-time paracanoe Paralympian will be part of a 20-member athlete panel tasked with  representing, supporting and promoting the voices of athletes on anti-doping matters, and will be the avenue for athletes, chosen by athletes, to assume important seats within WADA’s governing bodies.

O’Leary’s has been working in the School of Chemistry in the National University of Ireland Galway as a lecturer since September 2004. He has been head of the School since 2018. His exposure to sport, chemistry knowledge and experience of Ireland's sport drug testing systems has led him to be a vocal advocate against drug use in sport.

“I believe that sport is one of the places where young people first experience ethics and morals outside their family,” O’Leary said. 

“The concept of agreeing a set of rules for all to follow is fundamental to sport, work, politics, legal systems and life.  Anti-doping is a set of rules that cross all sports. 

“They are a fundamental on which ethics of sport is built.  They are there to protect the integrity of all sport and to protect the health of all our athletes.” 

In 2006 Patrick had a second knee replacement, and in 2010 an infection associated with that operation led to him becoming very ill. Over the course of 18 months he had numerous operations ending with an amputation above the knee in November 2012.

He took up paracanoeing and began competing internationally in 2013, with many world and European finals to his name. In 2016 O’Leary was Ireland's first ever paracanoe representative in the Paralympic Games, where he finished sixth.

He won the B final at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

“Serving on this WADA Athlete council is a way I can contribute to this important issue,” O’Leary said. 

“It brings together my love of and expertise in sport, science, and education.”

The International Canoe Federation congratulates Patrick O’Leary on his appointment, and looks forward to him providing a strong voice in the fight against doping.

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