THE Irish Olympic squad was rocked last night by claims of a betting scandal involving a member of the team.
Olympic Council of Ireland President Pat Hickey confirmed to the Irish Independent that they had received an allegation concerning one of the competi
tors due to compete at the London Games.
He said the council sought legal advice on the matter and were told that they had a duty "under the rules of natural justice" to inform the competitor of the allegation being made.
The OCI subsequently received a detailed letter from the competitor's solicitor on Thursday and a full investigation is now under way.
The allegation is that on a previous occasion the competitor made two bets backing an opponent to win an event in which they themselves were directly competing.
The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) code of conduct specifically outlaws this practice.
Indeed, earlier this month IOC chief Jacques Rogge said “the fight against doping and illegal gambling remain the absolute priority of the IOC”.
While the OCI is – as yet – merely in receipt of an anonymous email making the allegation, the Irish Independent has taken possession of detailed documentary evidence suggesting the competitor used their personal account with a large bookmaking firm to place two separate bets, both backing a specific opponent to claim victory in a competition they themselves were entered in.
The bets, at a price of 12/1, were placed the day before their competition started. Both were successful and the competitor withdrew €3,600 in cash on returning from the event.
Hickey said that if found guilty, any competitor would face “severe sanctions” that could include exclusion from the Olympics. That is unlikely to happen in this particular case as the time-frame is too tight for a proper investigation to be completed.
“This is fraught with legal issues,” explained Hickey last night, “and, right now, our priority is not to cause any unnecessary upset to the competitors.” In the documents held by the Irish Independent, the competitor is seen to have made a credit card deposit of €300 into their personal betting account.
Three minutes later, they place a bet of €41 at 12/1, backing an opponent to win gold. Roughly 20 minutes later, they then place a second bet of €259 backing the same opponent at the same price.
The following day, they went into competition against that opponent. Records show that the first bet brought a winning return of €533 and the second one €3,367. The competitor's home address and mobile number are among the details included in the documentation in our possession.
It's news that the Irish team could have done without just as the Games begin. It has been a fraught Olympic build-up for the Irish with a legal row over the make-up of the women’s 400 metre relay team as well two Irish athletes taking cases for non-selection to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Boxer Joe Ward's appeal was rejected on Thursday and the fate of show-jumper Denis Lynch will be known today.