December 05, 2012

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) -- The IOC ordered disciplinary action against top Olympic officials from four countries on Wednesday after a British newspaper's sting alleged they offered to supply London Games tickets to the black market.

Greek Olympic president Spyros Capralos breached the IOC's code of conduct and, because of his privileged position, caused "even greater damage to the Olympic Movement,'' the Olympic body said.

Another national Olympic president, three secretary generals and a head of marketing were named, from Greece, Lithuania, Malta and Serbia.

An IOC ethics commission report ruled that the six officials "helped tarnish the reputation'' of the Olympics when they spoke to undercover reporters from the Sunday Times. The articles were published in June, six weeks before the London games opened.

Olympic leaders "must behave impeccably,'' the ethics panel stated in its judgment.

"(The panel) believes that, if this is not the case, the individuals concerned must draw the necessary consequences,'' the ruling said.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the four national Olympic committees must take "appropriate measures'' against their officials or face further action, such as withdrawing accreditation for Olympic meetings and events. IOC ethics rules allow it to directly sanction National Olympic Committees but not individuals.

"We are studying if this could be changed in the ethics code,'' IOC President Jacques Rogge said.

The IOC is looking to overhaul the Olympic ticket sales process. Adams says a committee will examine how Olympic tickets are allocated to national Olympic committees and authorized agencies, and make recommendations to the IOC executive board next year.

Any changes will go into effect for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The review will "work out whether the shape of the overall process is the right one or whether we need to start again,'' Adams said.

Capralos was the highest-profile casualty of the sting, which also trapped the Greek Olympic marketing chief Nicole Avramidou.

He negotiated with reporters, who claimed to represent a Liechtenstein-based company acting for a Middles East investor, to receive a payment in exchange for becoming the Greek Olympic body's selected ticket sales agent.

Capralos broke ethics rules "even if the aim was apparently to fund athletes,'' the ruling said.

The IOC ethics panel noted that no rule-breaking ticket deals were completed during the Sunday Times probe, and that "the journalists were merely seeking to prove a point.''

The IOC identified Malta Olympic president Lino Farrugia, and its secretary general Joe Cassar, plus the secretary generals from Lithuania, Vytuatas Zubernis, and Serbia, Djordje Visacki, for breaking rules.

Cassar helped the journalists show that "those who work with (the sports world) are prepared to violate the rules,'' the IOC said.

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