Saturday 1 October 2016

OCI board member O'Sullivan demands answers

Published 15/09/2016 | 02:30

Sonia O'Sullivan Picture: Arthur Carron
Sonia O'Sullivan Picture: Arthur Carron

An Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) board member has added her voice to demands for information about the Rio ticketing controversy.

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Irish Olympic hero Sonia O'Sullivan, a member of the OCI board since 2008, said she will now have to review her involvement with the board and said "we need answers as well".

Her input comes just over one week after Basketball Ireland's secretary general secretary, Bernard J O'Byrne, wrote to acting OCI president William O'Brien asking if it supported embattled Pat Hickey.

In his letter, Mr O'Byrne, who has headed OCI member Basketball Ireland since 2011, said organisations were being put "in a very vulnerable position" due to the absence of information.

Speaking yesterday, Ms O'Sullivan said she hasn't been a very active member of the OCI since London 2012 and said she would consider her position on the board in the future.

"I've been to very few meetings, so I would definitely have to review the situation when the re-election comes up next year.

"We never discussed buying and selling tickets, as the Olympic Council of Ireland, so we need to know the answers as well," she added, speaking to RTÉ Radio One's Ray D'Arcy.

"As part of the board, you feel responsible, so you have to stay there and help to find the answers and hopefully move the Olympic Council of Ireland onto bigger and better things."

The Sydney 2000 Olympic 5,000m sliver medallist could not say if she was still happy to be a member of the OCI.

"That's quite a difficult question to answer because when I came on board with the OCI, it was a link for me to continue to be involved with athletes and continue to be involved with the Olympic Games," she said.

"You don't want it to drag on for another few years because before you know it we'll be looking at the Olympics in Tokyo.

"This is going to be a huge distraction for the athletes if it drags on.

"There'll be a lot of uncertainty amongst all the federations in Ireland," she said.

Last week, the Irish Independent revealed how Mr O'Byrne wrote a to-the-point correspondence to Mr O'Brien and asked the direct question: "Do we support Pat Hickey?"

He asked which person the board would support in the event of an election for president and "what exactly were the actions" the executive board has taken regarding the ticketing issue.

Since then, the OCI has announced that its crisis management sub-committee appointed Deloitte to conduct an independent review of its governance arrangements under its current constitution.

A spokesperson for the OCI declined to comment on Ms O'Sullivan's comments last night.

Mr Hickey has said he intends to fight all the charges laid against him by a Brazilian court in relation to the alleged mis-selling of Olympic tickets.

The 71-year-old said in a statement last week that he was innocent.

"I am completely innocent of all such charges and I will also vigorously defend my good name and character that I have spent my lifetime building through voluntary service for numerous sporting bodies," he said.

On Friday, a judge accepted charges against Mr Hickey, Kevin Mallon and eight others over their alleged involvement in a ticket-touting ring.

Irish Independent

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