PRESIDENT of the Ukrainian Olympic Committee Sergei Bubka says he has suspended the secretary-general of his NOC over claims he had sold tickets for the London Olympics on the black market.
Bubka, a pole vault legend, said that he had no option but to suspend Volodymyr Gerashchenko after the BBC had revealed that he had been exposed in a sting operation trying to sell on 100 tickets for the Games.
“I immediately suspended Volodymyr Gerashchenko,” said the 48-year-old. “We are going to set up an independent commission to investigate Geraschchenko.
“We must be fair and come to a correct decision.”
Bubka, Olympic champion in 1988 and a six-time world outdoor champion, added he was cutting short his trip to Canada – where there is an International Olympic Committee meeting at the annual Sport Accord Convention – to return to Ukraine on Wednesday.
After receiving information that someone from Ukraine’s national Olympic committee might be prepared to sell tickets, a BBC reporter posing as an unauthorised ticket dealer from the UK spoke to Mr Gerashchenko who confirmed he would be prepared to sell tickets.
Mr Gerashchenko, who has been general secretary of his national Olympic committee since 1997, told an undercover reporter: “I understand you’re a dealer – that’s why for me, you are priority number one, the top, the person, in case we have extra tickets to contact you, we contact you.”
During a subsequent meeting at a hotel near the Olympic Park in east London, Mr Gerashchenko explained he was in the process of distributing tickets to Ukrainian fans, coaches and officials.
However, once this process had finished, he would be prepared to sell up to 100 spare tickets.
Asked by the undercover journalist if payment could be made by bank transfer he replied: “I think it is when it comes, better cash. Possible?
“Better cash and finished with it. I hope to arrive 10 July.”
When asked by the BBC why he was prepared to break Olympic rules and UK law in offering his country’s Olympic tickets on the black market, Mr Gerashchenko claimed he had “never planned to sell tickets in the UK” and had been making “diplomatic talk to satisfy the persistent interest of the ticket dealer”.
He said: “We have more demand than the number of tickets so we will use all tickets allocated to the NOC of Ukraine. We will need more tickets and we will try to find them on the Locog Exchange page.”