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OCI wouldn't be first to try and put me back in my box, says Ross

Pat Hickey has stood down from his role as OCI chief temporarily in the wake of his arrest in Rio.

SPORTS MINISTER SHANE Ross has arrived back in Dublin ahead of a meeting with Attorney General Máire Whelan tomorrow to discuss the Olympic ticketing scandal.

The Independent Alliance TD’s return from Rio follows the arrest of Irish Olympics chief Pat Hickey yesterday in connection with the rumbling controversy.

Hickey has temporarily stood aside from his role as President of the Olympic Council of Ireland in the wake of his arrest by Brazilian police early yesterday morning.

Prior to his arrest he had met twice in tense circumstances with Ross in Rio, with the Minister putting pressure on Hickey to allow an independent member to be placed on the OCI’s inquiry into the scandal.

Following the Olympic chief’s detention yesterday, Brazilian police revealed an email on his phone from his legal counsel suggesting that Ross should be “put back into his box”.

18/8/2016 Rio Olympics Ticket Scandal. Independent Ross at Dublin Airport this evening. Source: Sam Boal

Speaking to reporters at Dublin Airport, Ross said he came home as quickly as possible to deal with what he described as a “grave matter”.

He would be meeting with his junior minister Patrick O’Donovan and various officials from his Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs tomorrow in addition to the Attorney General, he said.

We’ll decide tomorrow as a matter of urgency what sort of an inquiry will be carried out.

Ross said he had no comment to make on whether Hickey had been treated fairly by Brazilian authorities, adding that it would be “irresponsible” for him to do so.

Asked for his response to that “back in his box” language in the email Hickey was sent, Ross said the OCI “wouldn’t be the only ones” to try.

It’s strange legal advice to be given – but I understand the assessment.

Hickey, who is 71, spent last night in hospital as a precaution due to a cardiac condition, and remains in police custody. Acting OCI boss Willie O’Brien has said the sporting body will defend itself “to the hilt” in the wake of his former boss’s arrest.

Hickey is facing charges in Brazil of facilitating ticket touting, forming a cartel, and illicit marketing. If convicted he could face up to seven years in prison.

18/8/2016 Rio Olympics Ticket Scandal. Independent Source: Sam Boal

The ticketing controversy has been ongoing since the beginning of the Rio Games on 7 August, when Irishman Kevin Mallon was arrested on suspicion of ticket touting.

Hickey had previously said that there was “no impropriety whatsoever from anyone in the OCI or myself in the dealing of tickets”.

Comments have been disabled for legal reasons. 

Read: What happened when? A timeline of Ireland’s Olympic ticketing scandal

Read: Making headlines: How the world reacted to the arrest of Ireland’s Pat Hickey

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Paul Hosford and Garreth McNamee

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