Ticket corruption claims probed

Banbury Cake: Newspaper allegations that tickets for the London 2012 Olympic Games have been sold illegally are under investigation Newspaper allegations that tickets for the London 2012 Olympic Games have been sold illegally are under investigation

A probe is under way into claims of widespread corruption among foreign agents and officials supplying tickets to the London Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee is threatening a radical shake-up of the way Olympic tickets are distributed among its member countries after a Sunday Times investigation suggested officials were offering thousands of top tickets on the black market.

London Olympics chief Lord Coe was dragged into the row after the newspaper secretly filmed Greek national Olympic committee president Spyros Caprolos claiming he had successfully lobbied him for more premium Olympic tickets on Greece's behalf. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) has denied the claims.

The Sunday Times newspaper has presented a dossier of evidence on agents and officials controlling the tickets for 54 countries. Thousands of the best seats at the top events - including the 100m final - were up for sale after being siphoned off from official supplies held by overseas national Olympic committees (NOCs), the newspaper said.

National Olympic committees are forbidden to sell their tickets abroad or to anyone who plans to resell them. But The Sunday Times said undercover reporters posing as envoys of a Middle Eastern ticket tout found 27 officials and agents who were willing to do business.

According to the paper, these included one country's official ticket agency which The Sunday Times claimed offered category AA tickets, the best seats in the stadiums, to the fake Middle Eastern tout for up to £6,000 each. The IOC confirmed they were investigating the allegations and will consider a complete shake-up of how Olympic tickets are distributed among member countries.

Regarding the evidence against Mr Caprolos, Locog said in a statement: "Seb received a letter from the Greek Olympic Committee (HOC), as he did from other NOCs, and responded saying that tickets had been allocated in accordance with the IOC's ticketing policy. There was no further contact - either formal or informal - on this subject."

Locog added that rules and regulations for selling London 2012 tickets to international fans were "clear and unambiguous". A spokeswoman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said it was awaiting the result of the IOC investigation before commenting.

The revelations have prompted senior politician Sir Menzies Campbell - a member of the Olympic Board which helps oversee London 2012 - called for officials caught selling tickets on the black market to have their allocations removed for London 2012 and future Games.

He said: "I think it's disgraceful when you consider the number of people who wanted tickets in this country and were unable to get them. It's insulting that members of the Olympic movement should be selling their allocations of tickets at inflated prices. We punish athletes who break rules, there is no reason why we shouldn't punish officials who do so, for example, by cancelling all the tickets allocated to them for these Games and possibly even in the future."

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