By Jonathan Rest in Rome
Patrick Hickey, president of the European Olympic Committees, is to request a meeting with Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee president, and Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, president of the Association of National Olympic Committees, to voice the EOC's disappointment at a process that led to four of its member national Olympic committees being named and shamed for breaches of the IOC's code of conduct relating to the sale of tickets for London 2012.
The EOC said that while it backs the conviction that the Olympic Family should "act with the highest levels of probity and integrity" and supports the IOC's "role as the ultimate guardian of the values of the Olympic Movement," its executive board has "expressed their unanimous support for those implicated in the December 2012 Report of the IOC Ethics Commission."
The IOC this week demanded that the NOCs of Greece, Lithuania, Malta and Serbia impose sanctions on several of their officials for breaches of its code of conduct relating to the sale of tickets for this summer’s Olympics.
The ethics commission had acted on evidence obtained during an investigation into the sale of Olympic tickets by the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper, which found that senior officials within the NOCs were using their positions to obtain and sell on tickets at many times their market price.
The individuals named in the report were: Spyros Capralos and Nicole Avramidou, respectively president and head of marketing of the Hellenic Olympic Committee; Vytautas Zubernis, secretary general of the Lithuanian NOC; Lino Farrugia and Joe Cassar, respectively president and secretary general of the Maltese NOC; and Djordje Visacki, secretary general of the Serbian NOC.
But the EOC argues that the evidence on which the ethics commission formulated its proposals was never made available "in a timely manner" to those implicated, nor made available to the relevant NOCs.
The EOC said in a statement: "Given the seriousness of the allegations where reputational damage to senior members of the Olympic Family is at stake, the [EOC executive] committee expressed reservations about the lack of opportunity for those concerned to appear before the full membership of the IOC Ethics Commission, reservations about the process of entrapment through which evidence was obtained and reservations about the absence of legal representation."
It added: "The board has asked the president of the EOC to make representations to the president of the International Olympic Committee and the president of ANOC to reflect the views of the EOC executive board and its membership."
A potential meeting between Hickey and Rogge in Rome was avoided today after heavy snowfall in Switzerland caused the closure of Geneva airport and subsequently the cancellation of the IOC president's flight.
Rogge was due to be presented with a special award for his services to the IOC, from which he is retiring next year, and to the EOC, of which he was president from 1989 to 2001.
The ethics commission also this week recommended a review of “the entire ticket sales system to ensure that such situations, particularly those involving the ATRs [authorised ticket resellers], do not reoccur in the future.”
The IOC has already begun the review, with a task force due to report its initial findings in January.
The EOC board said it backed that review and supported a reformed ticketing process "so as to deliver transparency, equity and fairness to all NOCs."
Asked why the IOC does not fully centralise its ticket sales system, instead of relying on a complicated redistribution system, involving NOCs and ATRs, that is open to abuse, Rogge said this week: “Overall [London 2012 ticket sales] went extremely well, with millions of tickets sold to general satisfaction. But there have been some problems. The IOC looked into the Sunday Times allegations and we also looked into the ticketing situation to see if we can improve it. By February [of next year], we will be able to judge if we have to change the system, or just to fine-tune it.”