DUBLIN • Conor McGregor, arguably the biggest and most marketable star in mixed martial arts (MMA), is under investigation in Ireland after a woman accused him of sexual assault last December.
The Irishman was arrested in January, questioned by law enforcement authorities and released pending further investigation, according to four people familiar with the investigation.
The allegations, however, have not been proven, and the fact that an investigation is continuing does not imply that the 30-year-old McGregor is guilty.
As per the usual protocol in criminal investigations in Ireland and much of Europe, a formal charge does not necessarily follow an arrest.
On Tuesday, he announced on Twitter his retirement from the world's biggest MMA promotion, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), though a spokesman asserted that it had nothing to do with the investigation.
His publicist Karen Kessler issued a statement which read: "This story has been circulating for some time, and it is unclear why it is being reported now. The assumption the Conor retirement announcement today is related to this rumour is absolutely false."
While McGregor has previously announced his retirement from the sport, only to come back again, he has fought only once in the octagon since 2016, a bout that he lost to undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov last October.
The woman making the allegation said it had occurred at Dublin's Beacon Hotel.
Although there is little to suggest it would be a haunt for one of the country's richest sports figures, McGregor - Forbes magazine estimated he made US$99 million (S$134.2 million) last year - is an occasional guest there, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. His last and most recent visit was in December.
Irish media have reported on the case since news of the assault broke late last year, but without naming him.
Laws in Ireland restrict the media from identifying individuals charged with rape unless they are convicted, and news outlets reporting the identity of a suspect before a charge is brought often face costly libel and breach of privacy lawsuits.
A spokesman for the Gardai, Ireland's police service, would not confirm if McGregor was the suspect.
In response to a request for comment related to an "unnamed sportsman", it said a man was arrested on Jan 17 and released without charge while investigations continued.
"Investigations are ongoing in this case and at this time a file continues to be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions," a police statement said.
His lawyer in Dublin did not respond to messages seeking comment.
McGregor has also had several other run-ins with the law in recent years.
In July, he pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct, after he threw a dolly at a bus during a UFC promotional appearance at Barclays Centre in New York, and as a result, had to serve five days of community service.
In January, the Nevada Athletic Commission suspended him from fighting for six months - a sanction that was scheduled to end on April 6 - for his role in a brawl that took place after his defeat by Khabib.
On March 11, he was arrested in Miami and charged with robbery and criminal mischief after he was accused of stealing a phone from someone trying to take his picture before stomping on the device.
While both McGregor and the UFC have not commented on the allegations, the former UFC title-holder in two weight classes appears to be unfazed by the growing storm after being pictured in Florida on holiday, while posting on his Instagram account videos of himself drinking pina coladas.