Pat Hickey told to clarify Olympic ticket sales

Ireland’s Olympic boss Pat Hickey has been told by sports ministers Shane Ross and Patrick O’Donovan to clarify urgently what he knows about the ticket touting scandal.

The call by the two ministers comes as it appears that two Oireachtas committees are gearing up to investigate just how this controversy was allowed to happen.

Mr Hickey and the Olympic Council of Ireland have been embroiled in scandal since it emerged that an Irishman, Kevin Mallon, was arrested on Monday for allegedly selling tickets at “very high prices”.

He remains in a Rio prison awaiting a court hearing.

Mr Ross, speaking for the first time since the scandal broke, said that it would be very helpful for Mr Hickey to come out and speak publicly as to what is going on.

He said the controversy is a “matter of grave concern”.

He also said that the ticket scandal and boxer Michael O’Reilly’s failed drugs test are “shocking, embarrassing and disappointing” for Ireland.

Having decided not to contest the failed drugs test, Mr O’Reilly has relinquished his Olympic credentials and is on his way home from the games.

Mr Ross said he is likely to face sanction on his return to Ireland.

“We condemn all drug taking and we were looking for a clean Olympics. So it is very disappointing for Ireland but we should try and put that behind us. We should look to the boxers winning medals,” he said.

The Irish Amateur Boxing Association showed little sympathy for Mr O’Reilly and criticised him for taking a supplement without consulting its medical staff.

“We are very disappointed that Michael may have taken any supplement without consulting the The Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) high-performance support team.

“Educating athletes of the risks proposed by supplements is provided to all our boxers as part of the high-performance programme.

“What has happened there is a great shame, and we are going to leave it to the authorities to carry out their inquiries. There is a police inquiry.

“The Olympic council of Ireland (OCI) is also carrying out its own investigations. I think both scandals are embarrassing for Ireland but let’s forget about it and look forward to a medal being won,” the association said.

Mr Ross said his department is in contact with the OCI on an ongoing basis and he did not rule out conducting his own inquiries as to what is going on.

“We haven’t considered that yet. It is premature at this stage. The IOC will have to carry out an investigation as well because all of the tickets are not Irish tickets. If it is necessary we will carry out an inquiry, perhaps not the department but some independent inquiry,” he said.

The Irish Examiner last week broke the story of O’Reilly’s failed drug test on the eve of the games.

The Irish Sports Council’s director of participation And ethics has said athletes, and other members of the public, continue to take supplements despite huge risks associated with them.

Dr Una May said the Sports Council has failed to convince athletes not to take supplements but provides them with clear guidelines about the risks.

Mr O’Donovan, speaking to the Irish Examiner, said he expects the Oireachtas Sports Committee to conduct its review of the Olympic Games, and said the touting scandal should form part of its inquiries.

“Once the Brazilian authorities have completed their investigation, the sports committee in the Oireachtas should investigate it. After every Olympic games, there is a review. The precedent is well established,” he said.

“This whole debacle reflects on the reputation of the country. That in turn reflects upon the taxpayer who fund our sporting organisations,” he said.

Fine Gael TD for Dublin North West, Noel Rock, called on the Olympic Council of Ireland to appear before the Public Accounts Committee to answer questions regarding the ongoing Olympic ticket scandal in Rio.

Mr Rock is a member of the committee and believes the public has a right to know the full details.

Thursday Sport

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