O’Leary keeps eyes on the prize

The Irish sailor named in the so-called betting scandal did not break any rules at the time, according to the Olympic Council of Ireland.

Cork man Peter O’Leary was at the centre of a media storm yesterday following allegations he placed a bet on an opponent at the Beijing Games four years ago.

However a spokesman for the Olympic Council of Ireland, while declining to confirm if O’Leary was the person under investigation, said they will not be taking the matter any further until they receive full documentation from the person making the allegation. They pointed out that if this incident took place at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, it is quite possible it would have been legal at the time.

“The email we received is full of allegations and makes a quite detailed allegation against an athlete on current Irish team,” he said. “The Olympic Council of Ireland will not take the matter further until it receives full documentation from the person making the allegation in respect of natural justice for athlete concerned.

“Until we receive actual documentation we are not taking any further action. However we are keeping the IOC advised of the situation and, at this point, we are not confirming or denying if the athlete named today is the athlete under investigation.

“There is also the question of whether it would have been illegal at the time if this, as suggested in the allegation, happened at the Beijing Olympics. In fact it could have been perfectly legal do it in Beijing because the issue of betting has only arisen quite recently.

“While it appeared on the contract for the London Olympic Games it certainly was not on the contract for Beijing.

“This allegation is four years old and it begs the question why would a person wait four years to make the allegation two days before a competition? It would appear to be a disgruntled person or somebody with grudge.

“Thankfully it has not dampened the mood in the [Athletes] Village. The mood is terrific — very upbeat and very positive — and thankfully this has had no affect on the morale of the team.”

Yesterday O’Leary, with his crew mate David Burrows, put it all to the back of their minds and stuck to a routine which has become their norm.

After yesterday’s practice race, they were approached by an Irish journalist who left the corralled, mixed zone area in which the media are required to remain, and challenged as they left the venue. But they stayed cool-headed and refused to answer any questions.

After winning the last preparatory Olympic regatta, Skandia Sail for Gold, here on June 10 and finishing fourth at the Star World Championships in Hyeres, France, the duo are tipped as possible medal winners.

“At the moment I cannot make any comment or reaction as the information that we have is only that which has been published in the press,” James O’Callaghan, the Irish Sailing Association’s Performance Director said yesterday.

“We will engage fully just as soon as we have the facts. The Olympic Council of Ireland and the IOC are in discussion and when these are resolved then we will be in a better position to engage, but immediately we are just trying to ensure the guys have the best opportunity to do what they have worked hard for on the first day of their Olympic regatta.”

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