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Volodymyr Gerashchenko, the secretary general National Olympic Committee of Ukraine (NOCU), has been suspended from his role after it was alleged that he was looking to illegally sell thousands of pounds worth of London 2012 tickets for cash.

A BBC investigation claims that Gerashchenko (pictured top) told a reporter posing as a United Kingdom (UK) tout he would have up to 100 tickets for the Olympics to sell – an act that is a criminal offence, punishable by fines of up to £20,000 ($31,500/€24,800).

Gerashchenko claimed he had "never planned to sell tickets in the UK" but Sergey Bubka (pictured below), President of the NOCU, revealed here that he has suspended his secretary general and ordered an independent investigation into the issue.

"We have only just got the information from the BBC regarding the illegal sales of the tickets," Bubka told insidethegames here where he is attending the SportAccord Convention.

"For us it is obviously a very unpleasant situation and I have already suspended Volodymyr Gerashchenko and ordered an independent investigation into what has happened.

"I spoke to him on the phone to tell him that he has been immediately suspended.

"I am leaving Québec City tomorrow evening, earlier than planned, to go back and deal with this issue personally.

"I will give him a chance to explain himself when I arrive back because that is my duty.

"We want to find out the truth and we will cooperate with both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and London 2012 to get to the bottom of this issue."

The issue is a huge embarrassment for Bubka, the pole vault world record holder and Seoul 1988 Olympic champion, as he is an influential IOC member.

But the spotlight is firmly on Gerashchenko, who has served as the secretary general since 1997.

Strict rules, applying to countries outside the European Union, say tickets can only be sold to those who are resident within that country to stop tickets entering the black market.

But Gerashchenko has allegedly flouted the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act, designed to stop Olympic tickets entering the black market.

A BBC reporter posing as an unauthorised ticket dealer from the UK spoke to Gerashchenko who is said to have confirmed he would be prepared to sell tickets.

The 56-year-old, who studied International Economic Relations at Kiev State Shevchenko University, is said to have told the BBC 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... we contact you."

During a subsequent meeting at a hotel near the Olympic Park in east London, Gerashchenko is said to have explained that he was in the process of distributing tickets to Ukrainian fans, coaches and officials as his National Olympic Committee had been allocated over 2,000 tickets.

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."

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."

"We have more demand than the number of tickets so we will use all tickets allocated to the NOC of Ukraine," he said.

"We will need more tickets and we will try to find them on the LOCOG Exchange page."

Gerashchenko said that the meeting with the undercover reporter "was unofficial, with no intention to make any real deal", either in writing or verbally.

Sebastian Coe (pictured), the chairman of London 2012, who is also attending SportAccord, praised Bubka for his swift manner in which he has dealt with the crisis.

"I take these things very seriously," he said.

"I have spoken to Sergey and told him that I am very pleased he has acted as promptly as he has.

"We have both written to the BBC to ask for the evidence so we can deal with the matter further."

Former and now Shadow Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell has already called for an investigation.

"I think it's shocking," she stormed.

"Here's somebody who's exploiting the system and if the charge against them is proven, the sanctions are very heavy."

"We take these allegations very seriously indeed," Mark Adams, IOC director of communications, told insidethegames.

"If proven we will not hesitate to impose tough sanctions."

By Tom Degun at the SportAccord Convention in Quebec City

Source: www.insidethegames.biz