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Culprits in London ticket affair get off lightly

By Karolos Grohmann

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - A number of national Olympic committees (NOCs) and authorized Games ticket resellers got off with a slap on the wrist by the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday for breaching ticket rules ahead of this year's London Olympics,

A report by Britain's Sunday Times newspaper in June said that NOCs and Authorized Ticket Resellers (ATRs) representing some 54 nations had broken rules over the sale of London 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 unauthorized resellers, triggering an IOC investigation.

IOC President Jacques Rogge said the Olympic charter did not allow for sanctions to be issued to individuals within NOCs who will get off with a warning.

"You can suspend it (NOC), fine it, but for reasons pertaining to legal issues we have no authority on the people themselves," Rogge told reporters after the IOC's ethics commission proposed the NOCs reprimand or warn their own people.

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

The London Olympics started a little over a month later on July 27 with most sports sold out early in the ticketing process and more than a million people unsuccessful in an initial ballot last year.

One of the more high-profile officials involved in the affair is Greek Olympic Committee (HOC) chief Spyros Capralos who, according to the ethics commission, had damaged the reputation of the Olympic movement. Capralos was also caught on video in the newspaper report.

Officials at the Lithuanian and Maltese committees were also accused by the commission of tarnishing the Olympic reputation while the Serbian NOC had failed to respect the IOC code of conduct.

The affair has forced the IOC to review its ticket process and set up a task force to do so ahead of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

It will also take some measures "on an administrative level" for a number of NOCs that include among other no ticket resale opportunities.

"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 issued later.

"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."

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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