A top Ukrainian Olympic official was suspended Tuesday following allegations that he offered to sell thousands of dollars worth of tickets for the London Games on the black market.
Volodymyr Gerashchenko, secretary general of Ukraine's national Olympic committee, was accused in a BBC television report of telling an undercover reporter posing as an unauthorized dealer that he was willing to sell up to 100 tickets for cash.
Sergei Bubka, president of the Ukrainian committee and an IOC member, said he called Gerashchenko in Kyiv on Tuesday to tell him he was suspended pending an investigation.
Bubka said he would set up an independent commission Wednesday to investigate Gerashchenko, who has been secretary general of the Ukrainian Olympic body since 1997.
"We must be fair and come to a correct decision," Bubka said in Quebec, where he is attending Olympic meetings and the SportAccord conference.
The former pole vault champion said he would cut short his stay in Quebec to fly to Ukraine on Wednesday to deal with the case.
Bubka said he informed the International Olympic Committee of the investigation, and also told Sebastian Coe, head of the London organizing committee, that Ukraine would co-operate with any probe carried out in Britain.
It is a criminal offence in Britain to sell Olympic tickets on the black market, an offence punishable by fines of up to 20,000 pounds ($30,000). Under rules applying outside the European Union, tickets can only be sold to people who are residents in that country.
In London, police said they had contacted the BBC and would like to see all of the material in the report.
"The safest way for the public to purchase tickets for the Olympic and Paralympic Games is from the London 2012 website," the Metropolitan Police said in a statement. "If you buy from an unofficial site or from a tout, you risk paying over the odds for a ticket that may not exist, may not be genuine and you risk not getting to see the games. Your personal details could even be used in other crimes."
Coe said his organizing committee would also ask the BBC for its evidence.
"I take these things very seriously," he said in Quebec. "I'm very pleased with the prompt reaction of Sergei. The integrity and management of the ticketing is absolutely essential."
Ukraine's committee received about 2,900 tickets as part of its official Olympic allocation, Bubka said.
"There has never been a situation where we have had a surplus number of tickets and those that we have received will all be distributed using official channels," Bubka said. "It is imperative that tickets are distributed to deserving recipients."
The BBC said its reporter posing as an unauthorized ticket dealer from Britain spoke by phone with Gerashchenko, who said he would be prepared to sell tickets.
"I understand you're a dealer," he told the reporter. "That's why for me, you are priority No. 1, the top, the person, in case we have extra tickets to contact you, we contact you."
The undercover reporter later met in London with Gerashchenko, who said he was in the process of distributing tickets to Ukrainian fans, coaches and officials. After that, he said, he would be prepared to sell up to 100 spare tickets.
The Ukrainian said he preferred to complete the sale by cash.
"Better cash and finished with it," he said.
The BBC later approached Gerashchenko and asked why he was prepared to break Olympic rules and British law by illegally selling tickets.
He 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."
Gerashchenko said the meeting with the undercover reporter "was unofficial, with no intention to make any real deal."
"I have nothing to propose," he said. "I did not have real tickets to sell. I agreed to do this meeting only for the reason not to offend the person from the host country who asked me several times for a meeting."