EXCLUSIVE: Pat Hickey insists he 'will be proven innocent of all charges' in the Brazilian courts

In the exclusive interview with Newstalk Breakfast, the former OCI president says he was 'was absolutely humiliated and treated in a disgraceful manner' after being arrested in Rio

BY Stephen McNeice 12:30 Wednesday 28 June 2017, 12:30 28 Jun 2017

Pat Hickey, the former president of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI), has said he was "absolutely humiliated" when he was arrested in Brazil.

Mr Hickey was arrested last August by Brazilian police as part of an investigation into alleged ticket touting.

He was questioned by officials and spent some time in a maximum security prison.

Mr Hickey - who has denied all charges against him - was freed from prison two weeks later and put under house arrest, before returning to Ireland in December last year.

It was announced shortly after his arrest that Mr Hickey would step aside as OCI president following his detention.

Speaking to Paul Williams in an exclusive interview on Newstalk Breakfast, Mr Hickey stressed that he could not go into details about the case as it is still in front of the courts in Rio.

He stated: "I'd like to just emphasise that I am totally innocent of all these charges, and I will be proven innocent, and my legal team in Brazil are working flat out."

Mr Hickey spoke about the impact the experience has had on himself and his family.

He observed: "This has left a devastating effect on my family - on my wife, on my children... devastating. It's affected my own health. As a result of all this stress, I now have a heart problem, and I have had two medical procedures."

"Treated in a disgraceful manner"

The story of Mr Hickey's arrest made international headlines - and images of his arrest at his hotel were widely published.

He argued: "There's not a doubt about it that I was absolutely humiliated and treated in a disgraceful manner on my arrest. Everyone in the world saw, the media were at the door.

"The judge of the high court of Brazil said I should never, ever have been arrested and put in prison."

Mr Hickey also discussed some of the wider criticism he received during and after his detention in Brazil.

He observed: "Lots of people said many things about me when I was away. My legal team have kept a record and a track of everything.

"When I clear my name, I'll spend some time reading over all those."

Shane Ross

As well as the media, Mr Hickey was critical of the then Minister of Sport, Shane Ross, who was also in Rio at the time of his arrest. 

"In the short term he was in office, I've always had a good relationship with him as a Minister of Sport.

"I do note, and I checked this with my colleagues in the OCI, he never made any enquiries into my condition. I would have thought that a Minister of Sport - and I'm one of the highest office holders of sport in Ireland - that he would have taken due care and attention to look after a fellow citizen and a fellow human, and to show some humanity. But as I said, he scarpered back home, and I was left to my own devices with my legal team to set me free."

Newstalk has contacted the minister's office for comment. 

Irish report

A report on the Rio ticketing scandal has also been received by the now Transport Minister Shane Ross, following an inquiry by Justice Carroll Moran.

Mr Hickey explained why he and his lawyers do not currently want the report published.

He said: "I saw a draft of the report, and my legal team have advised Judge Moran - and the Minister, and the Attorney General - that this report should not be published until after the court case is heard in Rio. Anything that comes out of it could prejudice my fair trial.

"Even worse still: any media reports can also be used by the prosecutor in Brazil against me in the case."

Mr Hickey denied that he had any concealed relationships with sponsors, including The Hospitality Group (THG) Sports.

Kevin Mallon, who works for THG Sports, was detained in Rio de Janeiro as part of the ticketing investigation.

Mr Hickey said: "THG is the biggest sponsor of all our sponsors, at €1.5m - which is a phenomenal sponsorship. My job was to facilitate them to get the best deal possible [from] ticketing."

"Great letters of support"

Mr Hickey defended his almost three decade long term as president of the OCI.

"Before I left Dublin on the plane for Rio, I left the OCI in a very clean state of health," he noted. "There was €3 million surplus in the bank, and a property out in Howth that's valued at €3 million. 

"I can remember vividly coming back from the Sydney games in the year 2000, and I think we had €30,000 in the bank. When I left for Rio, we had €3 million."

He stressed that his term in office was committed to enhancing profits "so that the money would in turn go back to the athletes and the federations".

He acknowledged: "I've been president for nearly 30 years - and in the course of time you do make enemies, and you do activities that people may not be happy with. This was a great opportunity for them to come out and criticise me."

However, he also added: "I've received great letters of support and calls and emails from many athletes and team officials who have traveled away with me during the years. They don't see me as the monster that I've been portrayed as."

He also said that he is "extremely happy" that there has been no question "of any misappropriation of any finance or any funding whatsoever" amid the allegations and accusations he has faced.

The Olympic Council of Ireland

Mr Hickey remains the Irish member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and he says the organisation is "fully backing me and fully supporting me in this crazy situation I find myself in".

He again ruled out returning to the OCI, having announced his intention to not seek another term before leaving for Rio.

But what are Mr Hickey's thoughts on his former organisation and its new president Sarah Keane?

He told Paul: "I have a very good relationship with Sarah Keane, and I think she will make a great president. In fact, I brought her on to the committee. I will have a very good working relationship with the Olympic Council of Ireland.

He added the new team at the organisation "will bring a whole new flair to a new Olympic Council of Ireland".

"I will assist them in every way I can as the IOC member in Ireland. But then I want to get back to normal life with my family," he added.

Some of his former OCI colleagues claim the ticketing scandal, and his arrest, have cost the sports body €1.5m.

Mr Hickey denied that, saying: "The €1.5m was done without my knowledge, I know nothing about it - this was done by the crisis management committee.

"I can tell you that my legal costs today in Brazil amount to €280,000, and there is an insurance policy [...] that I put in place over 15 years ago.

"The cover on that policy is €1 million - that's the cap on it. My fees have been taken out of that €1 million."

You can listen to the full interview here: 

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