Monday 11 December 2017

Sonia O'Sullivan claims alleged OCI ticket touting story has been 'sensationalised'

Sonia O'Sullivan: member of the OCI's committee
Sonia O'Sullivan: member of the OCI's committee
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Irish athletics legend and Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) committee member Sonia O'Sullivan has claimed that the alleged Rio ticket touting scandal has been 'sensationalised' by the media.

The Olympic silver medallist from Sydney 2000 has been on the OCI board since 2008.

Writing in her column in the Irish Times today, O'Sullivan said: "I am an athlete at heart and my passion is to help and advise any athletes that may want or need it. I have never been interested in the administration and so it was as much a shock to me as anyone when the Olympic Council of Ireland was drawn in to the ticketing issues in Rio.

"There have been many news reporters wanting to speak to me and I have not spoken to anyone because, until the investigations have run their course, I won’t know any more than what’s being written in the papers, or else spoken through the news.

"Even at that, I am at the stage where I don’t know what to believe, as this story has been sensationalised and currently there is no proof or evidence to tell the full story. That can only come with time."

Four of Ireland's top Olympic officials have been barred from leaving Brazil as police expanded their investigation into the alleged illegal sale of tickets for the Games.

Three OCI officials had their passports, phones and laptops seized by Brazilian police as the games wrapped up on Sunday, following the earlier arrest of president Pat Hickey, who has since stepped down from that role.

Rio police investigating the controversy wanted to question Ireland team leader Kevin Kilty, chief executive Stephen Martin and secretary general Dermot Henihan.

They later ruled out Mr Henihan's involvement in the alleged scheme, saying there was no evidence, after he appeared at police headquarters on Tuesday.

Mr Kilty and Mr Martin have yet to be questioned.

Mr Hickey, 71, was detained at a hotel in the Barra da Tijuca area on Wednesday and Rio police said he has been formally accused under Brazilian law of ticket touting, running a cartel and illicit marketing.

He has been moved to a high-security remand prison at Rio's Gericino Penitentiary Complex, known as Bangu Prison.

Irishman Kevin Mallon, a director of THG Sports, which specialises in corporate and sports hospitality and is owned by Ipswich Town FC owner Marcus Evans, has been in custody in Brazil since August 5 over the affair.

An inquiry to be led by High Court Judge Carroll Moran was announced yesterday.

It will investigate "the receipt, distribution and sale of tickets" allocated by the International Olympic Committee and how the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) dealt with those tickets, according to just-published terms of reference.

This will include "any resale of any tickets as part of hospitality packages".

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