Ukraine Olympics boss quits over ticket scandal

The general secretary of Ukraine's National Olympics Committee (NOC) resigned on Monday following claims by the BBC he sought to sell tickets for the London Games on the black market.

"Volodymyr Gerashchenko has submitted his resignation from the position of general secretary of the NOC," the committee said in a statement, adding he had pledged to cooperate with an independent investigation commission.

The BBC revealed last week that Gerashchenko had been exposed in a sting operation trying to sell some 100 tickets for the London Olympic Games.

In a bid to contain a growing scandal that also threatens to shadow Ukraine's co-hosting of the Euro football next month, the Olympics Committee said it has developed "an immediate reaction plan" over the scandal.

It said that the creation of the independent investigation commission has already been approved and it would consist of three top Ukrainian legal experts.

"The Ukraine NOC is an independent non-governmental organisation working openly and in accordance with the highest ethical principles and it is committed to putting every effort into investigating this issue," the statement added.

The swift reaction to the claims has been led by the president of Ukraine's NOC, pole vaulting great Sergei Bubka who immediately suspended Gerashchenko after the report emerged last week.

After receiving information that someone from the NOC might be prepared to sell tickets, a BBC reporter posing as an unauthorised ticket dealer from Britain spoke to Gerashchenko, who reportedly confirmed he would be prepared to sell tickets.

The BBC said Gerashchenko, general secretary since 1997, told the 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."

When asked by the BBC why he was prepared to break Olympic rules and British law in offering his country's Olympic tickets on the black market, Gerashchenko reportedly 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".

Bubka said last week he had spoken to the London Games supremo and running legend Sebastian Coe and vowed to "ensure that we fully cooperate with any subsequent investigation that takes place in London".

The scandal has blown up at an extremely uncomfortable moment for Ukraine, as it prepares for Euro football amid Western disapproval over its treatment of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko and concern over racism in the country.

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