Nine Australian athletes fined for Olympic accreditation tampering

Nine Australian athletes have been ordered to pay fines of 10,000 reais (3,121 dollars) each after using altered Olympic accreditations to attend a basketball semi-final match at the Rio Games, officials said Saturday.

Cyclists Ashlee Ankudinoff and Melissa Hoskins, rugby player Ed Jenkins, archers Alec Potts and Ryan Tyack, hockey player Simon Orchard, and rowers Olympia Aldersey, Fiona Albert and Lucy Stephan were at the match on Friday evening to support Australia's basketball players, who were facing off with Serbia.

Australian media reported that the manipulated accreditations allowed the athletes to gain better seats at the match.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said it had launched an internal investigation to determine who was "responsible for not adhering to the accreditation rules." Australia chef de mission Kitty Chiller said the athletes were "definitely not at fault."

"It's unfortunately a practice that has been traditional not only in Australia but in other countries as well for many Olympic Games of putting a sticker on your accreditation with another venue access code on it," Chiller told journalists in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday.

"We're investigating the circumstances as to how the accreditation was tampered with," she added. "We'll complete the investigation and then we'll know as to how the athletes arrived in a venue with accreditations with a different access code to their own."

Brazilian authorities were ready to charge the nine athletes with falsifying a document, which is punishable with one to five years in jail under the country's laws.

But following an expedited hearing overnight into Saturday, the nine athletes were instead given the fines and a two-year good behaviour bond. Any record of the proceeding will be expunged after two years.

The decision came after deputy Australia chef de mission Fiona de Jong "apologized to the court and explained that the athletes were supporting their teammates, they were not attempting to defraud anyone, no one had suffered a material loss and no one was harmed as a result of the incident," the AOC said in a statement.

It will pay the athletes' fines. The athletes will then be able to get back their passports and be free to leave Brazil.

"The penalty imposed was relatively lenient when you look at it from a criminal perspective," De Jong said. "I can say that our athletes were dealt with entirely fairly."

Cyclist Matthew Glaetzer was also detained on Friday evening, but only as a witness, according to the AOC.

Last update: Sat, 20/08/2016 - 17:26
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