European Olympic Committees on collision course with IOC after they back officials in London 2012 ticket scandal

Saturday, 08 December 2012
By Duncan Mackay at the CONI Headquarters in Rome

Sunday Times London 2012 ticket scandal front pageDecember 8 - Unanimous support was today expressed here by the European Olympic Committees for its officials implicated in the London 2012 ticket scandal, even though the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Ethics Commission recommended that sanctions be taken against them.

Spyros Capralos, President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC), is the highest-profile official caught up in the scandal which followed a report by Britain's Sunday Times newspaper in June which claimed that NOCs and Authorised Ticket Resellers (ATRs) had broken rules over the sale of tickets for this year's Olympics.

The IOC Ethics Commission had recommended in their report that action be taken against those named, who also included officials from Lithuania, Malta and Serbia.

But the EOC appear to have set themselves on a collision course with the IOC after its Executive Committee publicly criticised the Ethics Commission's decision.

"The members of the Executive Committee expressed their unanimous support for those implicated in the December 2012 Report of the IOC Ethics Commission," said Raffaele Pagnozzi, the secretary general of the EOC, in a prepared statement.

Capralos, who the Ethics Commission claimed that caused "even greater damage to the reputation of the Olympic Movement" because of the HOC's important standing, sat just a few feet away from Pagnozzi on the top table as a member of the EOC's Executive Committee.

Among the EOC's biggest concerns were that those accused were not represented before the IOC Ethics Commission and were instead confined to written submissions.

They also expressed concerns that the NOCs have been told by the IOC to take action without having access to the evidence provided by The Sunday Times to the Ethics Commission.

Other officials named in the Ethics Commission report were Vytautas Zubernis, the former secretary general of the National Olympic Committee of Lithuania; Lino Farrugia, President of the Malta Olympic Committee, and Joe Cassar, its secretary general; and Djordje Visacki, secretary general of the Olympic Committee of Serbia.

"In particular they noted that the evidence on which the IOC Ethics Commission formulated its proposals was never made available in a timely manner to those implicated nor made available to the relevant National Olympic Committees," said Pagnozzi.

"Given the seriousness of the allegations where reputational damage to senior members of the Olympic Family is at stake, the Commitee expressed reservations about the lack of opportunity for those concerned to appear before the full membership of the IOC Ethics Commission, reservations about the process of entrapment through which evidence was obtained and reservations about the absence of legal representation."

Patrick Hickey EOCEOC President Patrick Hickey will seek urgent talks with Jacques Rogge and Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah over the London 2012 ticket scandal

Patrick Hickey, President of the EOC, has now been asked to open talks with Jacques Rogge, President of the IOC, and Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, President of the Association of National Olympic Committees, about the Ethics Commission report.

insidethegames understands that several members of the IOC's ruling Executive Board expressed their concerns about the Ethics Commission report during its meeting in Lausanne earlier this week.

But the only one who voted against endorsing the report was Hickey.

The Olympic Charter does not allow the IOC the right to take direct action against the individuals named in the Ethics Commission.

But they would have the right to deny the individuals named in the report accreditation to future IOC events, including the Olympic Games. 

Hickey, though, is not confident that Rogge will back down, which could leave the situation at a tense impasse. 

"The Executive Committee made that decision and said would I, on behalf of them, go to speak to Jacques Rogge and Sheikh Ahmad," he told insidethegames.

"But the Ethics Commission has made their decision so we can't be in an appeals process.

"It's up to the the individuals to take action.

"It's a complex situation."

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