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IOC threaten Olympic ban for Conlan & Donnelly over Rio bets

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Irish Olympians Mick Conlan and Steven Donnelly have been given a severe, although ultimately meaningless, reprimand for placing small bets on boxing whilst bored during the Olympics.

The sanction was levied on Conlan and Donnelly, as well as British middleweight Anthony Fowler by the International Olympic Committee.

Conlan was found to have placed small bets on the bantamweight division during his time in the Olympic Village, while Donnelly had included himself losing to Mongolia’s Tuvshinbat Byamba (a bout which he won) in accumulators.

Neither boxer’s bets were successful and none of the bets staked were of any substantial amount – although they had the potential for large returns.

Conlan and Donnelly appeared in front of a disciplinary committee in Rio on August 20th where both explained that they had not read the various documents they signed regarding gambling restrictions, and both stressed that the bets made were just to pass the time whilst on the trip. In terms of Donnelly betting on himself, the Ballymena welterweight described how he bet on his opponent to ensure a form of consolation should he have lost to Byamba. Donnelly denied foul play or intention to cheat, a claim which is seemingly validated by his impressive performance against the Asian fighter.

Both expressed regret over the incidents.

The IOC have threatened that the boxers, all three of whom intend to fight professionally in the near future, will not be allowed participate at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo unless they follow educational programmes regarding gambling, and demonstrate that they have learnt from the experience.

The Olympic Council of Ireland was also reprimanded for not informing their athletes properly of the rules.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: