Olympics-Irish athlete probed over betting allegation

LONDON, July 28 Sat Jul 28, 2012 5:10am EDT

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LONDON, July 28 (Reuters) - Ireland's Olympic Council is investigating an allegation that one of its competitors at the London Games previously bet on an opponent to win an event in which they were both competing, a spokesman said on Saturday.

The council has informed the athlete, whom it will not name, about an anonymous allegation that two bets were made in favour of an opponent in an unspecified sport prior to the Olympics.

The spokesman said it was now a legal issue and that the council would not make any further comment at this time.

The Irish Independent newspaper reported that the alleged bets were placed the day before the competition in question started and that both were successful. It said the competitor withdrew 3,600 euros ($4,500) in cash on returning from the event.

The newspaper quoted Olympic Council of Ireland President Pat Hickey, who was last week elected to the executive board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), as saying that if found guilty any competitor would face "severe sanctions" that could include exclusion from the Olympics.

Ireland has over 60 athletes taking part in 14 sports at the Games, which officially opened on Friday.

The IOC has pledged to crack down on illegal gambling during the Games and has set up a monitoring unit to track betting patterns. It has also banned athletes from betting during the Games.

IOC President Jacques Rogge told reporters on Friday he was even "uneasy" about Australian athletes allegedly betting on who would be the flag bearer.

Australian chef de mission Nick Green said they had a strict ban on betting in their team. ($1 = 0.8084 euros) (Reporting by Padraic Halpin,additional reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Mark Meadows; mark.meadows@thomsonreuters.com; Reuters Messaging:; mark.meadows.reuters.com@reuters.net; +44 20 7542 7933; For all the latest; Olympic news go to here)

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