Irish boxers rapped over Olympic betting

Two Irish boxers are facing disciplinary action for betting during the Rio Games.

The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) released a statement yesterday morning confirming the pair “were spoken to about inappropriate betting activity during the Games. The matter is still under review so there will be no further comment at this stage”.

Belfast boxers Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan told the BBC they were not involved.

The Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) confirmed it was aware of the allegations, but said the OCI had not contacted it directly on the matter. In a statement the IABA said it “would be disappointed if any members of the team have engaged in a prohibited activity under the conditions of participation”.

It has not been clarified on what sports the bets were placed. While it is not illegal for athletes to gamble, betting is prohibited by the International Olympic Council (IOC) and the OCI.

This is not the first time an Irish Olympian has been accused of placing bets during the Games. At Beijing in 2008, sailor Peter O’Leary was accused of placing two wagers on an opponent to win an event in which he was competing. He was reported to have made €3,600.

Pat Hickey, the former president of the OCI who is in a Brazilian jail cell, demanded a full explanation of the incident at the time. O’Leary avoided a ban because the IOC decided that the bets had no effect on the result.

The Irish boxers competing in the men’s division of Rio 2016 were Joe Ward, Steven Donnelly, David Joyce, Brendan Irvine, Conlan and Barnes. Michael O’Reilly was disqualified for taking a banned substance. He left the Olympic Village in Rio five days after failing the drugs test, according to a statement by the IABA.

Katie Taylor was the only female Irish boxer competing at Rio 2016.

A new code of ethical regulations, published by the IOC in December, expressly bans Olympics participants from betting on events at the Games, from throwing competitions and from providing inside information to gamblers.

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