That fellow up there in the blue is Irish welterweight Steven Donnelly, after his round-of-16 win at the Rio Olympics. Looks happy, doesn’t he? No matter how the bout went, he couldn’t lose.
Donnelly was one of three boxers who received “severe reprimands” from the IOC for placing bets on Olympic matches, but he was the only one who wagered on his own. Two of the eight low-stakes bets Donnelly placed over the course tournament were on his opponent, Mongolia’s Tuvshinbat Byamba. Donnelly prevailed in a close-fought split decision to qualify for the quarterfinals, providing he’s a better fighter than he is a punter.
Donnelly’s explanation for betting against himself, given to the IOC in a hearing in Rio on August 15, was that ‘he had bet without intending to cheat by losing his match to win his bets, rather, winning the bets would be some compensation in the event he lost his match’.
There’s no real punishment for Donnelly or the other two sanctioned boxers, fellow Irish Michael Conlan and Great Britain’s Anthony Fowler. They merely need to complete “education programs” to be allowed to fight in the next summer games, and they don’t plan to—all three either have turned pro or will shortly.
Conlan, for his part, explained how this all happened.
[Conlan] told the IOC that he had signed documents that outlined the ban on Olympic betting ‘without reading them, thus he was in fact not aware of the prohibition’.
He also said that betting was a hobby of his and he engaged in it during the games for fun as ‘there was not much to do in the Olympic Village’ and he had been ‘bored’.
Donnelly, soon after the reprimand was announced on Wednesday, tweeted this:
The Irish sure are something.