Four years ago tomorrow (August 17), at 6am, a bemused 71-year-old man was woken by a knock on the door of his room in Rio de Janeiro’s Windsor Marapendi Hotel, where he was staying during the 2016 Olympic Games. Upon opening that door he was confronted by a uniformed policeman. Alongside his early morning visitor, amidst a dazzle of lights, were television cameras and journalists documenting what, it soon transpired, was his arrest.
Soon there was footage all over TV and social media of this high-profile action against Patrick Hickey, International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, President of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) and, since 1989, head of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI).
Hickey faced charges of theft, tax evasion, money-laundering and criminal association after hundreds of tickets to Olympic events at Rio 2016 were seized by police. He has always denied any wrongdoing.
Soon afterwards he found himself in a cell, with a single hole in the ground as a latrine, in Rio’s notorious Bangu prison. There he remained for 11 days and nights.
His guards, fearing that he would be attacked by some of the notoriously violent inmates, initially refused to let him out the cell, although after conversations establishing the common ground of U2 and Roy Keane he was allowed to walk in the yard for around 10 minutes after midnight.
Accompanying Hickey in his new location was Kevin Mallon, an executive with THG Sports, who had been the OCI’s authorised ticket reseller (ATR) at the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Games, and who had signed a contract with Hickey that went up to 2026. But who had not been authorised by the Rio 2016 organisers.
Mallon had been arrested earlier, with police alleging that more than 700 tickets, organised in envelopes and marked for sale, were found in a safe with him.
He was later charged with ambush marketing, ticket touting, tax evasion, criminal association and larceny.
It was alleged by Brazilian police that Pro10 Sports Management, the Dublin-based company which was belatedly selected as the Irish ATR by the Rio 2016 Organising Committee, was just a "front operation" to conceal THG's involvement.
In a statement, Pro 10 Sports Management claimed Mallon was distributing the tickets on its behalf in Rio as it did not have a representative there.
"The directors of PRO 10 Sports Management wish to make clear that they have always acted properly and fully in line with the ATR guidelines," the statement continued.
"These [tickets] had been made available for sale through the authorised ATR process and were sold to legitimate customers of PRO 10 at face value plus the allowed ATR reseller fee.
"We should also note that it is normal practice for ATRs to have available many tickets in Rio for collection and sale through the authorised processes at Games time."
It is understood that the IOC's Executive Board signed off on Pro 10’s appointment as ATR for the Rio 2016 Games - and that the acknowledgement is minuted in meeting records.
Proceedings were due to take place in Rio starting on November 29 2017. But on November 11 it was reported that Mallon had been granted an injunction by the Supreme Court in Brasilia to suspend the case against him.
And according to the Irish Times, the Supreme Court confirmed that the injunction "extends to all of the accused in this process".
Lawyers representing Mallon gained the injunction after claiming they were "unable to build their client's defence". This was reportedly due to no evidence being offered or any clarity in his alleged involvement in a crime.
By this time both men had returned to Ireland - Hickey, kept latterly under house arrest, having had to wait until December 2016.
A condition of having his passport returned was the payment of a court bond of €410,000 ($440,000/£352,000) which was financed by a loan from the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), of which he is a vice-president.
"We are convinced he is innocent and if he is proven innocent we will get the money back," ANOC secretary general Gunilla Lindberg said.
When ruling that Hickey's passport should be returned, Justice Juliana Leal de Melo said that the risk that he may not return to Brazil was countered by his health concerns. Hickey was due to receive treatment for a heart condition.
In the meantime the sporting political landscape that Hickey inhabited was being transformed.
Having been due to step down as OCI President after Rio 2016, Hickey had "self-suspended" himself from other roles in the wake of the scandal, including his IOC membership and his Presidency of the EOC.
Slovenia’s Janez Kocijančič, who took over as Acting EOC President, was elected to the role unopposed in 2017. His death, following illness, was reported this year on June 1.
In February 2017, Sarah Keane was elected as the new OCI President.
In the immediate aftermath of the Games, the OCI set up a review into the ticketing arrangements at Rio 2016 which was undertaken by the accounting firm Grant Thornton, but this was halted in November 2016 after Hickey threatened to seek an injunction preventing its completion before the conclusion of criminal proceedings against him.
A corporate governance report by Deloitte also took place.
Meanwhile, the Irish Government established a report by Justice Cearbhall Moran. When it was released on August 14 2017 it cleared Hickey of any criminal wrongdoing.
Moran employed forensic lawyers to study the OCI's accountancy practices and did not find any mismanagement of funds. But the 226-page document alleged that there was a "failure by so many principal participants" to cooperate with the inquiry, including Hickey, the IOC and Rio 2016.
Moran's report claimed there may be "information significant to issues herein of which the inquiry is unaware by reason of the silence of the parties not participating".
The report was also scathing about the deals between the OCI and THG Sports and claimed the agreement with the ticketing company was used to disguise the continuing role of THG.
Pro10, set up by THG, then took over but its ticket service was described as "unfit for purpose" and "chaotic" in the report.
Moran suggested that Hickey was more concerned with the commercial arrangements of the OCI's deal with THG, owned by Britain's Marcus Evans, than ensuring that supporters from Ireland wanting to attend the Olympic Games were properly serviced.
Despite being cleared of criminal wrongdoing, Hickey was criticised for a number of governance issues, including failing to keep proper records of all meetings of the OCI Executive Committee.
"I have read the report of Judge Carroll Moran S.C. and while the report contains significant inaccuracies I am pleased to see my reputation and good name have been cleared in that there is no allegation of criminality or financial impropriety," Hickey said in a statement sent to insidethegames.
"The report contains significant flaws and inaccurate assumptions.
"Because of the ongoing trial in Brazil now is not the time to address these serious inaccuracies, in time I propose on the proclamation of my innocence to address all issues.
"Regrettably the Moran Inquiry has failed to include the full suite of correspondence between my solicitors and the Moran Inquiry that addressed all of the issues in dispute…
"At all times I acted in the best interests of the Olympic Council of Ireland with a view to maximising revenue for the Olympic Council of Ireland which in turn was channelled into the management of current and future Olympic athletes in Ireland…
"At the time I announced my retirement in January 2016 and subsequent thereto I left a credit amount in the bank account of the Olympic Council of Ireland to the order of €2.5 million (£2.2 million/$3 million)."
Hickey claimed that he was given specific legal advice not to assist with the Moran investigation pending the outcome of Brazilian proceedings against him.
The IOC also said it had been given this instruction.
Despite the fact that the Rio 2016 Organising Committee was named by Moran as having failed to provide assistance in the report being put together, on September 2 2017 the Brazilian prosecutor in charge of the case, Marcos Kac, told the Irish Times that Hickey could have cooperated with the Moran Report.
"He’s saying he can’t talk because of Brazil," Kac said."This doesn’t exist."
The THG agreement with the OCI was ended in 2017.
The OCI handled the limited demand for tickets to the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics itself before confirming last year that Finnish company Elämys Group was its ATR ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games.
So where does all this leave Hickey?
In August 2017, the OCI voted unanimously that he would not be welcome to rejoin its Board even if he were reinstated as a member of the IOC.
The OCI Board meeting also agreed to forward a copy of Justice Moran’s report to the IOC Ethics Commission.
"We expect that this process may take some time to reach a conclusion," its statement added.
Keane announced in June 2019 that while the OCI did not know what would happen with Hickey’s case in Brazil, she did think it was "potentially likely that something will happen at International Olympic Committee level, presumably through the IOC Ethics Commission, prior to the Tokyo Games".
Meanwhile the IOC Ethics Commission continues to play a straight bat to all inquiries.
Here is the response it gave to insidethegames last month: "Mr Hickey is self-suspended. This status remains unchanged as the Brazilian court case is still pending. With regard to the ongoing procedure of the IOC Ethics Commission, we cannot provide any information as its work remains entirely confidential."
Hickey’s current standing within his home sporting establishment was made clear last summer when the Irish Sports Minister and the OCI emphasised that, although he had been invited to attend the second European Games in Minsk as a former EOC President, he was not there representing Ireland.
One close observer of Irish sport over a number of years told insidethegames: "The feeling was that Pat ran the OCI like his own personal fiefdom. And he rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way. But there is also a grudging respect for him. He was not born a wealthy man, and he rose to the top of the IOC pole. You can’t do that without sharp elbows."
According to one insider who spoke to very senior IOC members in the wake of the Rio 2016 arrest, the consensus was that Hickey was paying a price for arrogance rather than criminality.
Speaking to the Irish Times on October 16 in 2016, Gerard Hartmann, the Limerick-based physical therapist who had treated athletes such as Liz McColgan, Sonia O’Sullivan and Paula Radcliffe, and was a member of the OCI medical team, said he had known Hickey for 20 years.
"I think there is a side to Pat which I think is contrasting with what the general consensus might be," Hartmann said. "He’s not liked by many, that’s a fact. I know for years he’s ruffled a lot of feathers, and while he has progressed the OCI, maybe he has pulled his weight a little too much.
"Some people can feel threatened by people who are too cocksure of themselves, and he has wielded the solicitor letter at the blink of an eyelid. People don’t like that. There is that side of the man, no doubt about it.
"But he does considerable work behind the scenes, to find resources, to help athletes make the Olympic team. And to make the IOC Executive [Board], you have to be a formidable person to carry that off. Those years of experience can’t be bought. And I never once saw him looking at the monetary side of it. Power, yes, maybe, but if anyone loved the Olympic Movement it’s Pat Hickey.
"We’re all looking at the ticket touting allegations, but it hasn’t yet been established as a crime, and to what extent? And yet he’s been demonised, a persona non-gratis. He is power hungry, but his energy and enthusiasm is for sport…"
Eamonn Coghlan, the first world 5,000 metres champion and three times an Olympian, looked ahead to the Moran Report clarifying the governance of the OCI, saying: "I think the way it was run, with an iron fist, somewhat of a dictatorship, by Hickey, all that will come out." He added that Hickey had taken personal issue with him when he had voiced his support for a rival in the 2001 OCI Presidential election.
Hickey remains unable to speak about much of what has transpired as the matter is still sub iudice in Brazil. When, or if, the case will be resumed remains a mystery. Most involved believe it will never happen, particularly as so many of the parties involved in Brazil have moved on.
But sources close to Hickey have provided this overview of his views and current position: "In line with the common practice across many of the 205 NOCs, Hickey had arranged sponsorship deals with various ticketing agencies over several Olympic Games, including Rio 2016.
"In return for much-needed sponsorship revenue for the NOCs, the sponsoring agencies would bundle the NOC’s inventory of Games tickets with hospitality packages.
"Although this is legal in many countries around the world and accepted by the IOC, it was alleged by special police attached to the Rio Games that this was illegal in Brazil."
The suspicion is among supporters of Hickey that what transpired two years later was motivated by similar reasons - in this instance, an attempt to distract public attention from the logistical issues affecting the staging of the Games.
They believe Hickey was a "high-profile fall guy" for the rest of the Olympic family. And they point to similarities with another high-profile arrest made by Brazilian police two years earlier during the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals.
On that occasion the man at the centre of the lights and cameras was Ray Whelan, the British chief executive of Match Services - a partner firm of FIFA that sold VIP tickets.
The action was part of a wider investigation by Brazilian authorities into the alleged illegal trade of World Cup tickets at inflated prices.
A Brazilian court later dropped the charges after admitting police had acted "in haste", and in September 2016 the highest Federal court in Brazil confirmed the case against Whelan had been "officially closed in its entirety".
A statement issued on Whelan’s behalf by the Byrom Group of companies said: "The coverage of Ray Whelan’s arrests, his incarceration and subsequent court proceedings has been entirely one-sided, prejudiced, unrepresentative, and in many instances entirely inaccurate, from the very outset.
"These inaccurate stories live on forever in electronic archives [that includes the internet but also any other similar repository] and it is impossible to have them deleted, even though the case against Ray Whelan has now been closed and allegations therein have been proven to be untrue and unfounded."
Supporters of Whelan had long claimed that the entire case was based on largely false information to allow Brazilian authorities to score a public relations coup after world football’s governing body FIFA had warned frequently about the illegal sale of tickets.
Match maintains that Whelan was simply fulfilling its obligations by legally attempting to resell packages that had been given back to the company late on.
In an exclusive interview with insideworldfootball, Whelan claimed he could have been used as a scapegoat and that Rio prosecutors failed to understand the varying duties carried out by the numerous Match officials.
"It came as huge shock but they could never produce a single piece of evidence," said Whelan.
"Was there a political agenda for what happened to me? Obviously it’s something I’ve thought about. They tried to put two and two together but couldn’t get four.
"Yet I was incarcerated for 24 days and allowed out once a day for an hour after being asked the names of my mother and father - and nothing more.
"I think they wanted the newsworthiness of me being in prison. It was like some kind of TV reality show."
The Hickey sources statement continued: "From the outset Hickey has stated his complete innocence of all charges against him by the Brazilian authorities and he continues to do so to this day.
"Both the Irish Government and the OCI undertook rigorous audits of the OCI accounts and found absolutely no criminality or misappropriation of funds or even any level of financial mismanagement.
"The Irish Director of Corporate Enforcement also thoroughly investigated the financial dealings of the OCI and found no wrongdoing whatsoever
"At the time of the Rio Olympics in 2016, Hickey had been President of the Olympic Council of Ireland since 1989, President of the European Olympic Committees since 2006 and senior vice-president of ANOC since 2010.
"When he started his Presidencies of both the EOC and the OCI, both organisations were in a relatively poor financial state.
"Under Hickey’s leadership, by the Rio Games, the EOC had €15 million (£13.5 million/$18 million) in the bank and the OCI had €2.5 million (£2.2 million/$3 million) in cash reserves and an asset of a listed building for its head office worth €2 million (£1.8 million/$2.4 million)
"Both OCI and EOC had consistently been given clean bills of health by internationally approved auditors.
"The OCI had an insurance policy worth €1 million (£900,000/$1.2 million) for all its directors for the previous 20 years and €200,000 (£180,000/$235,000) of this insurance has covered all Hickey’s legal fees to date.
"Hickey’s bail money paid by ANOC is still held in escrow in the Brazilian Court system accruing interest even though ANOC made provision last year for its non-recovery. Once the case opens, the money will be returned to ANOC with immediate effect.
"Hickey is under legal restraint in Brazil from speaking about the facts but over the last four years has wanted to - and indeed looked forward to - contesting all the charges and proving his innocence.
"However this unprecedented four-year delay to his fundamental right to prove his innocence has caused Hickey and his family immense stress and ill health.
"It is important to point out that if such a case had not been heard within a two-year period in Europe, it would have been in breach of statutes of limitations and thrown out of court and all charges dismissed."