IOC will cooperate with Brazilian Olympic ticket probe

AP
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The International Olympic Committee promised to cooperate Wednesday with Brazilian authorities in the ticket scalping investigation that has targeted one of its executive board members.

The statement came as IOC President Thomas Bach missed the opening of the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, where police wanted to interview him about the case.

Patrick Hickey, president of Ireland’s national Olympic committee, was among 10 people charged by Brazilian prosecutors on Tuesday with ticket scalping, conspiracy and ambush marketing in a case that broke during last month’s Rio Games.

Police investigator Aloysio Falcao said authorities want to speak with Bach about email exchanges between him and Hickey related to ticket allocations to Ireland.

Falcao said police had planned to “summon” Bach when he came to Rio for Wednesday’s opening ceremony of the Paralympics, adding that authorities have no evidence that he knew of the alleged ticket scam.

Bach canceled plans to attend the opening. The IOC said he would be in Germany instead for the official state mourning ceremony for former West German President Walter Scheel, who died last month at the age of 97.

It’s the first time an IOC president has missed the opening of a Paralympics since they were held in conjunction with the Summer Olympics in 1988.

The Brazilian newspaper Globo said Bach would be subpoenaed as a witness if he came to Brazil.

“The IOC cannot comment on a newspaper story nor on the ongoing legal procedure against Mr. Hickey for whom the presumption of innocence prevails,” the IOC said in a statement to The Associated Press. “For the IOC it goes without saying that it will cooperate on this matter.”

It’s unclear if Bach will go to Brazil for any of the Paralympics, which last until Sept. 18.

Hickey went to police headquarters in Rio on Tuesday, but declined to answer additional questions.

“We found enough evidence linking Hickey to this plot to sell tickets by a company that was not authorized,” prosecutor Marcos Kac told The Associated Press. “These are tickets that were sold for up to $8,000.”

The 71-year-old Hickey was arrested on Aug. 17 during the Olympics in a dawn raid on his Rio hotel room. After a two-day stay in a local hospital to undergo tests, he was held in a high-security prison complex.

Hickey was freed last week when a judge ruled that he wasn’t a risk to the public or the investigation. His passport was confiscated, and he must remain in Brazil until the case is concluded.

Hickey has temporality “stepped aside” from all his Olympic roles — IOC member, IOC executive board representative, Olympic Council of Ireland president, head of the European Olympic Committees and vice president of the Association of National Olympic Committees.

Police have said that Hickey plotted with businessmen to transfer tickets illegally from a sports company called Pro 10 to hospitality provider THG Sports, which was a non-authorized vendor and allegedly sold them for very high fees. Police investigators said the scheme was planned to bring in $3 million.

The head of THG Sports, Kevin James Mallon, was arrested on Aug. 5 in the case, but was set free, like Hickey. He faces the same charges and must remain in Brazil.

The eight other suspects are businessmen with Pro10 and THG Sports who are not in Brazil, including Marcus Evans, who owns THG Sports’ parent company, as well as English soccer club Ipswich.

Investigators have also found evidence linking 35 other National Olympic Committees to the Marcus Evans group. Rio police will communicate this to other governments but are not expanding their own investigation.

MORE: Rio Paralympics broadcast schedule

Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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