IRISH Olympic silver medallist Sonia O'Sullivan has launched an angry attack on Cathal Lombard, the Irish athlete who tested positive for the blood-boosting drug EPO.

O'Sullivan said that her fellow Cork athlete had called into question the integrity of every athlete on the Irish team in Athens with his claim that he needed to take drugs to ensure "a level playing field" when he competed internationally.

In a rare public statement on the subject of drugs in sport, she told the Sunday Tribune: "I'm very angry about this and I feel that I have to speak out because what he said is disgraceful.

"I have never felt the need to dope in my career. I don't know who it was that opened Cathal's eyes, as he called it, but in all my years in athletics I've never been offered drugs.

"The problem is that people who don't know athletics read these statements in the newspapers and think he must have a point. They'll think that people can't run fast without cheating just because Cathal Lombard said it.

"It's a slur on the rest of us, those who didn't take the shortcuts he did and who got where we are through talent and hard work, " she said.