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Greece, Serbia deny ticket charges

ATHENS, Greece -- Greek and Serbian Olympic officials Monday denied they were involved in selling tickets to the London Games on the black market.

The IOC is investigating allegations in Britain's Sunday Times that officials and ticket agents in several countries were caught selling tickets for up to 10 times their face value.

The Greek Olympic Committee issued a statement Monday denying any wrongdoing by its president, Spyros Capralos.

The Sunday Times quoted Capralos as telling undercover reporters posing as illegal ticket sellers that he had "pulled strings" with London organizing chairman Sebastian Coe to obtain extra tickets for official agents in Greece.

The paper said Capralos acknowledged that demand had actually been very low, and that many of the tickets were subsequently sold to people outside Greece for profit.

The Greek committee called the story "untrue" and said Capralos' comments, which were filmed using a hidden camera, were presented in a "misleading way" and "fragmentary." It noted that the London organizing committee had already denied that extra tickets were requested from Coe.

"The whole process was totally transparent and in accordance with the laws of the Greek state," the Greek statement said. "Therefore, there can be no issue on creating a 'black market' by the (committee), which did not buy any tickets, whatsoever."

The Greek committee accused the British newspaper's reporters of "violating all principles of journalistic ethics" and said Capralos' discussions with them focused on the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

In Belgrade, the general secretary of Serbia's Olympic committee, Djordje Visacki, also denied wrongdoing. He said in a statement to The Associated Press that national bodies are not in charge of the tickets "because the distribution of all tickets is entirely in the hands of an official distributor who has direct contract with the organizers of the Olympic Games."

Visacki was mentioned by the British paper as trying to facilitate the sale of black-market tickets.

At issue are ticket allocations given by organizers to the 205 national Olympic committees to sell in their home countries. The committees appoint a local organization to sell the tickets, a process meant to ensure equity.

IOC rules prohibit national committees from selling tickets abroad, inflating ticket prices or selling tickets to unauthorized resellers.

The IOC ethics commission has asked the Sunday Times for all its evidence. While the inquiry is not expected to be completed until after the London Olympics, the IOC could suspend any implicated officials and bar them from attending the games.

IOC executive board member Denis Oswald said anyone found guilty should be banned from all Olympic matters.