THE IRISH SAILING Association has hit out at a “malicious campaign” which they say led to Peter O’Leary’s Olympic betting controversy.
In a strongly worded statement, the ISA said the allegations which surrounded O’Leary on the eve of the 2012 Games took their toll on Ireland’s medal chances.
The Baltimore native was handed an official warning but escaped a ban after the International Olympic Committee found that he did not knowingly break any rules when he placed bets in Beijing four years ago.
The bets were reported to the Olympic Council of Ireland from an named e-mail account on 21 July, six days before the opening ceremony in London.
The allegations cast a shadow over the opening days of the games where O’Leary, 29, competed in the Star class with team-mate David Burrows. The Irish crew qualified for the medal race and finished tenth overall.
James O’Callaghan, the ISA’s Olympic performance director, said today that the controversy had a clear impact on the pair’s performance.
“O’Leary and Burrows placed tenth overall in Weymouth. Their form prior to this indicated at the very least fifth was attainable. They regularly placed higher than the eventual gold medallists.
The effect of this malicious campaign achieved someone’s aim.
In its statement, the ISA said that “the facts found present a vastly different picture than the story portrayed on the eve of O’Leary’s opening race.”
It continued: “The IOC report did not refer to the manner in which this matter was brought into the public arena except to state that it arose from an anonymous email.
The motive and timing of this matter, some four years after it occurred, has left many unanswered questions.
The ISA regrets that these questions have never been properly probed prior to, during, or since this summer’s Olympics.
Last week, an IOC commission found that O’Leary breached its code of ethics when he placed the two phone bets worth €300 on the 2008 Star competition in which he competed.
But the commission ruled that as he was not conscious of the breach, and as his own performance could not have had any impact on the result, no further sanctions were necessary.
O’Leary did not qualify for the Beijing medal race, won by Team GB’s Ian Percy and Andrew Simpson, netting him €3,600 in winnings.