President Michael D Higgins has called for “serious analysis and fearless responses” to the Olympic scandals around doping and ticket touting.
It comes after Irishman Kevin James Mallon, who has been accused of facilitating touting, was released from Brazil’s Bangu prison over the weekend. He was arrested on August 5, as the Olympics opened, with 823 tickets in his possession.
Mr Mallon, an executive of THG Sports, has been ordered to attend court today and regularly after that.
Pat Hickey, 71, who stepped aside from his position as Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) president after his arrest in Rio, remains in the same prison, which was condemned as “inhumane” in a report by public defenders last year.
Mr Hickey’s family are now expected to meet with Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan this week after they raised serious concerns for his health and welfare in detention.
But pressure is now being put on Mr Hickey to step down from his position on a committee set up to oversee Ireland’s bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023.
At a special reception in Áras an Uachtaráin yesterday to honour Team Ireland athletes in Rio, President Higgins said there had been “setbacks” in Rio, “both sporting and otherwise”.
While praising Ireland’s competitors for inspiring a new generation through their performances, he said the Olympic Games in Rio had also exposed some “serious issues for us”, both here in Ireland and amongst the entire Olympic family.
President Higgins said: “Issues of doping, so cruelly unfair to the clean athletes, alas never far from the Olympic story in recent years, questionable decision making by referees and judges during the games, and the controversy around the administration of our sports all deserve serious analysis and fearless responses here at home and internationally.
“Each of these issues, if not adequately addressed, has the potential to undermine public confidence in our athletes, in our sporting administration and in the fairness of international sporting competition itself,” he told the athletes, coaches and families yesterday.
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