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No AOC sanctions for Rio ticket tamperers

AAP logoAAP 1/09/2016

Former Olympians Natalie Cook and Lachlan Milne have escaped sanction for altering accreditations to sneak Australian athletes into the Boomers' Rio Games basketball semi-final.

The pair, working with the Australian team as athlete services volunteers, placed stickers on athletes' accreditations to allow them access to the stadium, an investigation commissioned by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) found.

Milne also ferried non-scanned tickets back to athletes outside the stadium to let them inside.

Nine athletes were held by police and later fined over the falsified accreditations after a plea bargain agreement was worked out with a Brazilian court. The AOC paid the fines after team boss Kitty Chiller exonerated the athletes of blame and apologised to them.

Four team officials - director of athletes services James Edwards, staff member Meg Sissian plus Cook and Milne - were sent home before the closing ceremony.

The AOC's independent investigation was conducted by lawyer Patrick George and an AOC disciplinary committee was established to make findings based on his recommendations.

George found Chiller had earlier warned Edwards that putting stickers over accreditations to help athletes gain entry to venues was to end after she learned it was happening with Edwards' knowledge.

Edwards had then sent text messages to the athletes services team, including Cook and Milne, telling them it must stop.

Acting on George's findings, the AOC said it would seek to have the nine athletes' good behaviour bonds and record of criminal proceedings expunged as soon as possible, finding they had already suffered disproportionately.

George said the behaviour of Cook and Milne has damaged the reputation of the AOC and the Olympic team but they were remorseful for having put the athletes and team in an embarrassing position.

He said the AOC needed to consider whether the matter was really a criminal falsification or an unauthorised alteration which should have been handled by the International Olympic Committee, not police.

George said the AOC might consider whether Cook and Milne should apologise to the athletes, as they had to Chiller, and if they should be fined for the financial loss.

However, the AOC decided no further action was needed.

It admonished the conduct of the athletes services staff but noted both Cook and Milne were remorseful and had missed the chance to take part in the closing ceremony.

The AOC concluded by saying it would make clear in the strongest possible terms that falsifying Olympic accreditations should "never again" happen.

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