A controversy over bets allegedly placed before the Olympics in 2008 is putting Star sailor Peter O'Leary under intense pressure

A betting controversy that has engulfed Irish Star sailor Peter O’Leary may be affecting his performance in the sailing Olympics. Yesterday a failed protest gave them a disqualification.

It forced this as their discard race and relegated them to 9th place overall.

British rival Andrew Simpson, currently leading with team mate Iain Simpson, said: “I think they are a bit frustrated because the Irish press are hounding them quite hard and I feel very sorry for those guys. It is not a good situation to be in and it must be pretty frustrating.”

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O’Leary has been accused of placing bets on the sailing results in advance of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, in breach of the IOC code four years ago. His lawyers claim the allegation has been made in ‘vengeance and spite’ and is designed to derail him at the time of ‘maximum negative impact’.   

The allegation was reportedly made in an email to the Irish Olympic Council on 21 July. According to reports more information has since been supplied to support the claim that O’Leary placed two bets in a shop in his home city of Cork on an opponent winning in an event in which he was entered.

O’Leary allegedly won both bets, winning €3,600 at odds of 12/1.

According to the IOC, Irish and other athletes would have signed a contract in 2008 agreeing to abstain from betting. The clause in the code of ethics has since been strengthened to make the prohibition more specific with the intent of preventing match fixing.

The controversy has been the subject of intense media interest in Ireland and is putting O’Leary under harsh scrutiny and pressure. Until yesterday his performance and that of crew David Burrows had included a 2nd place, but they are now long shots for a medal.

It does look as if someone is out to get O’Leary. Few here, including their closest rivals, are liking this attempt to scupper his Olympic efforts in 2012.