Two Irish boxers reprimanded for Rio Olympics bets

Two Irish boxers, who took part in the Rio Olympics, have been sanctioned by the OCI for placing bets at the games.

Steven Donnelly, 27, who competed in the men's welterweight (69kg) event, bet on himself to lose against Tuvshinbat Byamba.

Steven Donnelly
Steven Donnelly

Michael Conlan, 24, who competed in the men's bantamweight 956kg event, also placed bets on boxing events on August 8 and 9. At least two were in his own weight class, but he did not bet on his own bouts. The stakes in the bets were less than €250.

Steven Donnelly placed a large number of bets, eight in total, on various boxing events at the games, two of which were on his own match against Tuvshinbat Byamba. The athlete bet against himself. He actually won that fight.

Two Irish boxers reprimanded for Rio Olympics bets

The bets placed were relatively low amounts of money. However, the IOC noted there was a possibility of making a considerable amount of money if they had been successful.

Steven Donnelly's account was automatically suspended by the betting company following an alert that bets had been placed.

The boxer said he was not aware it was an offence to bet at the Olympics while taking part as a participant and gave a number of explanations for his betting:

  • He had signed the various participation documents without reading them, thus he was in fact not aware of the prohibition on betting;
  • He had bet without intending to cheat by losing his match to win his bets, rather, winning the bets would be some compensation in the event he lost his match;
  • He engaged in betting to pass the time; he had been bored in the Olympic Village, as there was not much to do;
  • He understood he had made a mistake and regretted it, and
  • Finally, he would be ready to help to educate his fellow athletes using his own experience

Michael Conlan placed bets on August 8 and 9, two of which were in his own weight class, although he did not bet on his own bout.

Michael Conlan
Michael Conlan

Responding to questions from the Disciplinary Commission the athlete confirmed he had bet on the competitions, but said that he was unaware of the prohibition despite having signed a IOC eligibility condition form which prohibits betting.

Mr Conlan gave the following explanation for his betting.

  • He had signed the various documents without reading them, thus he was in fact not aware of the prohibition;
  • He usually bet on sports - on horse racing, football and boxing. It was a kind of hobby for him, even if he was not addicted;
  • He engaged in betting to pass the time; he had been bored in the Olympic Village, as there was not much to do;
  • He bet just for fun;
  • He understood he had made a mistake and regretted it, and;
  • Finally, he would be ready to help to educate his fellow athletes using his own experience.

Both Irish athletes expressed regret for their actions.

The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has also been sanctioned for not making it clear that betting was prohibited for athletes.


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