HOC President ruled to have "damaged reputation of Olympic Movement" after London 2012 ticket scandal

Wednesday, 05 December 2012
By Duncan Mackay at the Palace Hotel in Lausanne

Spyros Capralos in front of Olympic ringsDecember 5 - Spyros Capralos, President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC), faces losing his position after he was heavily criticised by the International Olympic Committee's Ethics Commission for his role in the London 2012 ticketing scandal.

A report by Britain's Sunday Times newspaper in June claimed that National Olympic Committee (NOCs) and Authorised Ticket Resellers (ATRs) representing some 54 nations had broken rules over the sale of London 2012 tickets.

The newspaper reported that numerous NOCs and ATRs were offering to buy or sell tickets outside their territories, to sell tickets at inflated prices or sell tickets to unauthorised resellers, triggering an IOC investigation.

Capralos received the harshest criticism in the report, which also implicated NOC officials from Lithuania, Malta and Serbia.

Capralos, President of the HOC since 2004 and a successful businessman, allegedly told the undercover Sunday Times reporters that he could get more tickets for them to distribute as it wanted.

Sunday Times London 2012 ticket scandal front pageThe Sunday Times front page story in June implicated a number of top officials in the ticket scandal

After it was published, he claimed that the report was untrue and "misleading" and said The Sunday Times had "violated all principles of journalistic ethics".

But the Ethics Commission showed Capralos, who played for Greece's water polo team at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, no sympathy.

They claimed that as "a very well-known personality within the Olympic Movement, and President of the HOC, which has a privileged relationship within the OCOGs (Organising Committee of the Olympic Games) and the IOC, give this demonstration even greater creditability and thereby causes even greater damage to the reputation of the Olympic Movement".

Just a few weeks before the report was published in The Sunday Times Capralos had appeared alongside IOC President Jacques Rogge and London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe at the lighting of the Olympic flame in Olympia.

He then accompanied Princess Anne and David Beckham at the handover of the flame to London 2012 at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens. 

Nicole Avramidou, the HOC's head of marketing, is also criticised for her part in the scandal, although the Ethics Commission acknowledge "she acted after initial action by the HOC President".

Spyros Capralos with Princess RoyalJust weeks before being implicated in a London 2012 ticket scandal HOC President Spyros Capralos accompanied Princess Anne at the handover of the Olympic flame

Rogge said the Olympic Charter did not allow the IOC the power to take direct action against individuals within NOCs.

"You can suspend it [NOC], fine it, but for reasons pertaining to legal issues we have no authority on the people themselves," he said.

"We are studying if this could be changed in the ethics code."

It will be left to the individual NOCs to take action but the Ethics Commission have warned that if they fail to do so then the IOC should bar them from future events.

"The Executive Board has the authority to take the appropriate administrative measures, particularly with regard to issuing accreditations for the various IOC-organised events such as the Olympic Games, the Youth Olympic Games, Sessions and other IOC meetings," it said.

Olympic leaders "must behave impeccably," the Ethics Commission stated in its judgment.

"[The Commission] believes that, if this is not the case, the individuals concerned must draw the necessary consequences," they said.

Other NOC officials whose conduct has been ruled not befitting their position include Vytautas Zubernis, the former secretary general of the National Olympic Committee of Lithuania, who had offered to sell The Sunday Times reporters tickets for resale.

He been warned after Vancouver 2010 for the same offence and promised not to do it again. 

Zubernis has since left the Lithuanian Olympic Committee.

Lino Farrugia, President of the Malta Olympic Committee, and Joe Cassar, its secretary general, are also implicated after they offered to sell the undercover reporters the rights to distribute tickets for Sochi 2014 even though they "were clearly looking for ways to cirumvent the official mechanism".

Malta Olympics Committee president Judge Lino Farrugia Sacco and secretary-general Joe CassarMalta officials Lino Farrugia and Joe Cassar allegedly offered to sell the ticket rights for Sochi 2014 to help undercover reporters circumvent rules on London 2012

They are all accused of causing "the reputation of the Olympic Movement to be tarnished".

Djordje Visacki, secretary general of the Olympic Committee of Serbia, meanwhile, is criticised for his "lack of caution". 

An IOC task force has now been set-up by the IOC to review ticket procedures for Rio 2016. 

"The Executive Board is committed to reviewing the existing ticket sales model to ensure that such situations, particularly those involving the NOCs and ATRs, do not occur in the future," it said in a statement.

"As such, the IOC has already begun to review possible long-term solutions by creating a task force designed to issue any possible recommendations to the IOC Executive Board for consideration by May 2013."

To read the full Ethics Commission report pdfclick here.

Contact the writer of this story at duncan.mackay@insidethegames.biz


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