The Irish Olympian at the centre of a betting scandal claim has accused those behind the allegations of a dirty tricks campaign on the day he competes at the London Games.
Corkman Peter O’Leary is in action for the first time when he partners team-mate David Burrows in their sailing event.
The Sunday Independent newspaper has named O’Leary, boyfriend of Olympic hurdler Derval O’Rourke, as the athlete in the betting storm.
The Irish betting scandal story has gone global with ABC News reporting that “Betting scandal hangs over Irish Olympic team” and world media descending on the Irish camp for more information.
The Irish Independent had claimed on Friday that an athlete was being investigated by the Irish Olympic committee for betting against himself and winning almost $5,000 by backing an opponent.
Now solicitors acting on behalf of O’Leary have told the Sunday Independent that their client rejects the complaint.
They have also claimed that the allegation was deliberately made to cause ‘maximum negative impact’ on O’Leary so close to the start of his participation in the London Olympics.
The paper reports that O’Leary is accused of placing two bets on an opponent to win an event at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 in which he directly competed.
The International Olympic Committee has demanded a full explanation of the affair in talks with Olympic Council of Ireland boss Pat Hickey.
The report says that the Ethics Committee of the International Olympic Committee are satisfied the complaint was taken seriously by the Irish organisation and are preparing to nominate someone to carry out a full investigation.
The Olympic movement’s code of conduct specifically outlaws the practice of betting against yourself.
An IOC spokeswoman told the paper: “We have seen the media report. The IOC has looked into the matter and is in contact with the Irish Olympic Council. The case is not related to an Olympic event.”
Irish Olympic boss Hickey has confirmed that the OCI has received an allegation concerning one of the competitors.
The Sunday Independent says that an email was sent to the OCI on July 21, from a named email address.
On receipt of the email, the OCI took legal advice and were told that O’Leary had to be informed of the allegations.
The paper says that his solicitors replied that the allegations had been made out of ‘vengeance and spite’ and said the allegations were made to cause O’Leary ‘maximum negative impact’ just 48 hours before he was due to compete in the Games.
More detailed information has since been supplied alleging that the athlete placed two separate bets, both backing a specific opponent to claim victory in a competition he himself was entered in.
The report states that it is claimed that the bets, at a price of 12/1, were placed the day before their competition started and both were successful, netting €3,600. The allegations claim that the money was collected from Boylesports, Castle Street, Cork on August 27, 2008.
The Sunday Independent also reports that the Irish government are angry that they weren’t made aware of the allegations so close to the start of the 2012 Olympics.
Sports Minister Leo Varadkar told the paper: “I hope it did not mar morale in the Irish team.
“I only learnt about it today from the Irish Independent and don’t know the details. I understand it’s being investigated and I really hope it does not mar team morale at the start of what should be a great Olympics.”
Junior Sports Minister Michael Ring said: “I hope this is put to bed quickly and does not spoil the Olympics.”