Shane Ross doubts OCI ticket probe’s independence

Sports Minister Shane Ross is “uneasy” about the independence of an investigation into allegations of Olympic ticket touting.

It comes as the company authorised with selling the Olympic Council of Ireland’s (OCI) allocation of tickets claimed an Irishman being held in Rio for alleged touting was simply distributing the tickets on their behalf.

Kevin Mallon remains in custody after being found with hundreds of tickets — which were earmarked for the OCI — in his possession last week.

Pro 10 Sports Management yesterday claimed they have always acted “properly and fully in line with guidelines” and claimed they had suffered “significant commercial loss” as a result of the controversy.

Mr Ross has called for an independent person to be appointed to the OCI inquiry into how tickets assigned to them could have ended up on the black market.

“What I am not happy about is the make-up of the committee. I think that the independence of the OCI committee is something we should look at.

“It does appear from what he [Pat Hickey] said that the committee looking into this consists of the vice president of the OCI, the secretary general of the OCI. They are approved by the executive committee of the OCI,” he said.

Mr Ross is due to travel to Rio tomorrow to meet Mr Hickey to quiz him on the controversy but, speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, the minister said it would not be appropriate to comment on his position at this time.

“I think it would be wrong at this stage to say whether Pat Hickey is suitable or is not suitable,” said Mr Ross.

In a statement yesterday, Pro 10 defended their actions saying: “The tickets Mr Kevin Mallon, an employee of THG group, had in his possession were held on our behalf to be made available simply for collection by Irish and other European customers of Pro 10 in Rio.

“These had been made available for sale through the authorised Irish Authorised Ticket Reseller [ATR] process and were sold to legitimate customers of Pro 10 at face value plus the allowed ATR reseller fee.”

The statement added that it is “normal practice” for ATRs to have tickets available for collection in Rio and added that many ATRs “would have several thousand rather than hundreds of tickets in their possession at an ATR house”.

They refuted claims by the Brazilian director of ticketing for Rio 2016, Donavan Ferreti, that they had yet to provide answers to the body.

“We sent some questions, and as soon as we receive the information we will try to figure out what happened with these tickets,” said Mr Ferreti.

However, Pro 10 said “within four hours of receiving questions from Mr Ferreti’s organisation they have provided a full response to all the questions on Wednesday this week”.

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