Girlfriend of Athlone keeper says lie detector would clear her man

Igor Labuts and Anna Sidorenko
Igor Labuts and Anna Sidorenko

THE girlfriend of Athlone goalkeeper Igor Labuts has said a lie detector test would prove his innocence.

The club has had been under intense focus after UEFA said there was “clear and overwhelming evidence” of suspicious betting patterns on Athlone Town’s 3-1 defeat to Longford Town last month. 

The FAI launched an investigation into the match after around €400,000 was placed on the game in Asian markets.

There have also been suspicious betting patterns at two other games involving Athlone this season.

FAI officials interviewed a number of Athlone players this week as part of an investigation into the betting. They have been asked to provide the association with phone records and bank details. It is unclear if all the players have agreed to the request.

Goalkeeper Labuts, who has been involved in 17 matches at clubs across Europe where there were irregular betting patterns, was among those to be interviewed. 

Days earlier he told the Sunday World he was not involved in match-fixing. He said he wasn’t a top-class keeper and if he was he’d be playing for Real Madrid. 

His girlfriend Anna Sidorenko took to Twitter this week to defend him and question why his name was being mentioned “again and again” and suggested he could do a lie detector to prove his innocence.

“There is no, has never been, and never be any proof of Igor personally to be involved,” she said. “Is that so difficult to do polygraph test here?”

It is understood coaches Ricardo Cravo and Ricardo Monsanto were not interviewed as part of the probe. 

This week it was announced that Roddy Collins was replacing Cravo as manager of Athlone. 

There was a massive shake-up at the club after they received mystery foreign investment before the start of the season. 

The investor wanted to remain anonymous, but it was suggested Chinese football agent Xiadong ‘Eric’ Mao had some involvement. He has not officially been linked to Athlone.

Mao is believed to be involved in at least six clubs, including Club Atletico de Portugal, who were involved in matches where concerns were raised about suspicious betting patterns. 

Labuts and other Athlone players and coaches previously had contracts with Club Atletico and other teams linked to Mao.

Javier Mena, a senior manager of sports intelligence with the International Centre for Sport Security, told the Asia Times this week his team has been “aware of Mao for years.”

“Many years ago we saw links between Mao and Wilson Raj Perumal,” he said. Perumal is a convicted match-fixer from Singapore who has been jailed in his native country and Finland over match-fixing.