By Duncan Mackay

Spyros Capralos_with_Princess_RoyalJune 18 - Spyros Capralos, President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC), has claimed that the Sunday Times story about his trying to sell tickets for London 2012 to the newspaper on the black market is untrue and "misleading".

Capralos, a former water polo player who represented Greece at the 1980 Moscow and 1984 Olympics, appears to be caught on camera boasting how had "pulled strings" with London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe to allocate his country more top tickets to the Games that he could sell on for a profit.

He allegedly told the undercover Sunday Times reporters that he could get more tickets for the publication to distribute as it wanted.

Capralos, the chairman of the Athens Exchange and chief executive of the Hellenic Exchanges Group, is currently travelling on business in the United States but has denied he did anything wrong when approached by the Sunday Times

"The whole process was totally transparent and in accordance with the laws of the Greek State," the HOC said in a statement published on its website.

"Therefore, there can be no issue on creating a 'black market' by the HOC, which did not buy any tickets whatsoever.

"The journalists of the Sunday Times violated all principles of journalistic ethics, pretended to be representatives of a ticket-selling company and had even created a fake webpage.

Sunday Times_front_page
"The video recording was made with a hidden camera, in a misleading way too, while the publishing of the statements of the HOC President, Mr Spyros Capralos, was fragmentary and a patchwork of answers, made in a way that served [the purposes of] the authors of the article."

Coe has already angrily denied that he had provided extra tickets to Capralos, according to the HOC.

"Regarding the other issue mentioned in the article, that extra tickets were requested from the President of the Organising Committee of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Lord Sebastian Coe, the direct and flat contradiction of the issue by the Organising Committee of the London 2012 Olympic Games, provides a clear answer," the HOC said in its statement.

The involvement of Capralos in the scandal is particularly embarrassing to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and London 2012 as only last month he played a high-profile role in the lighting of the Olympic Flame in Olympia and the Handover in Athens, where he appeared alongside the Princess Royal (pictured top), President of the British Olympic Association.

Indeed, the IOC was apparently so alarmed by the Sunday Times allegations (pictured above) that it convened an emergency meeting of its ruling Executive Board on Saturday (June 16) and referred the allegations to its independent Ethics Commission.

Capralos claims he will be cleared by any investigation, according to the HOC.

"Even in the published statements of the HOC President – which we would like to stress once more that they are a product of a patchwork – as every reader can notice, there is nothing reproachable," the HOC statement said.

The HOC also confirmed that THG Sports Tours, the company owned by English businessman Marcus Evans, had paid ten times more than Beijing 2008 for the exclusive rights to market Greece's ticket allocation for London 2012. 

But the HOC claimed that €300,000 (£241,000/$377,000) had been spent on preparing Greece's athletes for the Games in the face of an unprecedented economic crisis. 

"The whole sum was exclusively allocated to the preparation of Olympic athletes of top level, at a time when, due to difficult economic conditions, the State stopped funding the Olympic preparation," the statement said.

The HOC concluded its statement by warning that it may take legal action against the Sunday Times.

"The Hellenic Olympic Committee would like to underline that it reserves all legal rights in order to protect itself from such immoral attacks in the future," it said.

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