Mystery over Ulster referee Michael Gallagher in Olympic boxing controversy
Ulster boxing referee Michael Gallagher is believed to have left the Olympics in Rio as controversy continues to rage over officiating in the ring.
Mystery surrounds the whereabouts of the respected AIBA official from Omagh who was one of the ringside judges for the heavyweight final bout in which Russia's Evgeny Tischenko won a contentious verdict over Vasilliy Levit of Kazakhstan.
Olympic boxing's governing body AIBA announced that it had expelled a "handful" of referees and judges involved in controversial decisions during the Rio Games but a number of those involved in bouts considered the most contentious in recent days were still officiating yesterday. Gallagher did not officiate yesterday.
Controversy has centred on Michael Conlan's shock loss to another Russian, Vladimir Nikitin, on Tuesday and the Belfast boxer responded on Twitter: "Wow this says a lot about AIBA, sending judges home who ruin dreams, what happens to the people whose dreams were ruined?"
Nikitin is understood to be pulling out of today's semi-final against Shakur Stevenson due to injuries he received in the Conlan fight.
Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn argued on Twitter: "Nikitin can't advance through to next round because of injury - @AIBA_Boxing should stick the winner @mickconlan11 back in!"
It is understood that six officials have been expelled from the Games, although AIBA officials refused to confirm the number or identities of those involved.
One of the judges who scored in favour of Tischenko, Colombia’s Armando Carbonell Alvarado, officiated in bouts yesterday, as did two of those - Udeni Kiridena of Sri Lanka and Silva Do Rosario of Brazil - who favoured Nikitin.
Despite the controversy, AIBA said there was no possibility of overturning the results of any of the bouts concerned.
The controversy comes at a particularly difficult time for AIBA, which is pressing ahead with its plans to allow fully professional boxers to participate in the Games.
The AIBA added in its statement: “The Olympic Games represent the pinnacle of all sports and boxing has been part of this since 1904. It is essential AIBA stands to the values of respect, sportsmanship, excellence and remains committed to a fair and transparent sport.
“With regard to corruption, we would like to strongly restate that unless tangible proof is put forward, not rumours, we will continue to use any means, including legal or disciplinary actions, to protect our sport and its Rules and Judging community whose integrity is constantly put into question.
“The organisation will not be deterred by subjective judgments made by discontented parties. We welcome all parties to come forward and provide evidence in order to take appropriate and immediate action.”
In another disturbing development, Irish International Olympic Committee member Pat Hickey has been arrested in Rio as part of a police investigation into alleged ticketing touting.
An IOC spokesman confirmed that an arrest warrant and a search warrant had been issued, while Brazilian police later confirmed they had laid charges of ticket touting, forming a cartel and illicit marketing.
Three telephones and two tablet computers were seized.
He was taken to hospital as a precaution, and will probably stay the night there, police said.
The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) said he had stood down temporarily from his roles after being arrested.
In an interview last week, Mr Hickey denied any wrongdoing in relation to ticket sales.