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Rio police seize passport of Northern Ireland gold medal winner Stephen Martin as part of probe into Olympic tickets

By Nevin Farrell

A former Olympic gold-medallist from Northern Ireland - hockey legend Stephen Martin - is set to be quizzed by Brazilian police as part of a probe into alleged illegal ticket sales.

Mr Martin was last night reported to be one of three Irish officials to have their passports, phones and laptops seized by police in Rio.

According to RTE, the officials included Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) Chief Executive Mr Martin, who is from Bangor, Co Down, and previously a Director of Coaching at Ulster Hockey.

The development was part of an ongoing investigation and there is nothing to suggest impropriety on the part of any of those whose passports have been seized.

Martin is a sporting legend in Northern Ireland and one of only four people from here to have ever won a gold medal at the Olympics.

He picked up the medal when he played for the GB hockey team which was victorious in Seoul in 1988.

The two other executives are reported to be Dermot Henihan and Kevin Kilty.

No arrests were made during the search yesterday but the officials were asked and agreed to attend police stations in Rio for questioning tomorrow.

As the Games drew to a close last night, Brazilian police were seeking to acquire the passports of three other people connected to the OCI.

A statement released by the OCI said: "Early this morning in Rio, Brazilian police arrived at the OCI offices in the Olympic village and at OCI accommodation outside of the village.

"The OCI personnel were asked to present for questioning at a local police station on Tuesday. They agreed to do so.

"The OCI had an allocation of unused official tickets in their offices which had been made available for athletes' families and friends. The police also took possession of these tickets."

Last night, when the Belfast Telegraph called Mr Martin's mobile phone it went to voicemail.

Former OCI president Patrick Hickey was arrested in connection with the alleged illegal sales on Wednesday.

Mr Hickey is being held alongside international sports hospitality company THG Sports director Kevin Mallon at Rio's Bangu 10 prison.

Pat Hickey (71) was detained at a hotel in the Barra da Tijuca area on Thursday and later taken to Samaritano hospital with chest pains before he underwent heart tests.

After being discharged he was taken to a police station for questioning in connection with the investigation.

Mr Hickey has been formally accused under Brazilian law of ticket touting, running a cartel and illicit marketing.

This is a stage in the legal process that is not equivalent to being charged in British or Irish law but is a preliminary step in that direction.

He has denied any wrongdoing.

A judge is due to be appointed this week to head an independent inquiry in Ireland into the alleged ticketing scandal.

Shane Ross, the Republic's Sports Minister, returned home early from Brazil to meet with Ireland's Attorney General about what could be done to get to the bottom of the controversy.

The Olympic Council of Ireland has said it will fully co-operate with the Irish inquiry.

Kevin Mallon has been in custody in Brazil since August 5 over the affair.

Mr Mallon was arrested after police seized Olympic tickets in a Rio hotel, some of which were part of the Irish allocation and some for the opening and closing ceremonies and the football final.

Belfast Telegraph


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