Tuesday 24 April 2018

Exclusive: Irish Olympian caught placing 'inappropriate bets' during Rio Games

The Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro
The Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro

Kevin Doyle and Martin Grant

A MEMBER of Ireland’s Olympic team has been reprimanded for inappropriate betting, Independent.ie can reveal.

The Olympian was caught placing bets on events while in Rio de Janeiro and subject to an investigation.

Sources said the person “did it inadvertently” and was very apologetic afterwards.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is understood to have suggested that they take part in an education programme on best practice for sports people.

“The IOC handled the issue. It was a stupid thing to do. The person was not betting huge sums or anything like that,” said a source.

A spokesman for the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) denied any knowledge of the incident.

The IOC were contacted for comment but did not respond to queries made by Independent.ie.

Since 2006, the IOC code of ethics prevents all athletes at the Olympic Games from betting on an Olympic event.

In documents published by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the organisation says it is the responsibility of the Olympic Movement to ensure that betting does not “infringe” on the “course or result of the competition”.

“With the rise of the internet, the sports betting market has gone global,” according to the IOC.

“The market has hugely increased in size and complexity. The problem occurs when betting leads to the manipulation of competitions.

“The very essence of any sporting competition is that the result cannot be known beforehand. When that uncertainty is removed, it renders sport meaningless and demoralises clean athletes.”

Olympic chiefs established a special intelligence system to monitor betting since the Beijing games in 2008.

The Integrity Betting Intelligence System (IBIS) came into operation in January 2014 and established a “centralised mechanism for the exchange of information”.

The system sends alerts and intelligence to international sport bodies, organisers and the Olympic Games.

“IBIS collects and distributes information and intelligence related to sports betting for use by all stakeholders of the Olympic Movement,” according to the IOC.

“Should an irregular pattern be detected or serious suspicion raised, a disciplinary commission can be set up by the IOC President.”

This is not the first time an Irish Olympian has become embroiled in a betting controversy.

In 2008 sailor Peter O’Leary won €3,600 after betting on an opponent to win.

On the eve of the London 2012 Olympics, it emerged that O’Leary placed a €300 bet on his opponents Iain Percy to win in an event he completed in at the Beijing Games in 2008.

It was alleged that O’Leary, who was ranked as an outside in the race and was not expected to win or be placed for a medal, put the bet on Percy to win gold.

The allegations came to light after an anonymous email was sent to the Olympic Council of Ireland detailing information of a bet.

O’Leary’s solicitors replied that the allegations had been made out of "vengeance and spite" and said they were made to cause Mr O'Leary "maximum negative impact" just 48 hours before he was due to compete in the Games.

It was claimed that the bets, at a price of 12/1, were placed the day before their competition started and both were successful, netting €3,600. The money was collected from Boylesports, Castle Street, Cork on August 27, 2008, according to the allegations.

The IOC Ethics Commission decided that O’Leary’s action did not have an impact on the game.

“There was no proof of any match-fixing,” said an IOC spokesperson in 2012.

“The athlete was unaware he could not bet on Olympic events.

“It is not something we agree with and we condemn it but we will not take any more action.”

It is understood that a second Olympian was also investigated for placing bets while in Rio.

The OCI - despite denying any knowledge of the issue when contacted by independent.ie last night - is expected to issue a statement later today.

Online Editors

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