Ukraine official suspended amid ticket scandal

QUEBEC CITY Tue May 22, 2012 8:48pm EDT

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QUEBEC CITY (Reuters) - The Ukraine National Olympic Committee launched an investigation on Tuesday and suspended a top official accused of offering to sell thousands of dollars worth of tickets for the London Olympics on the black market.

Ukraine Olympic chief Sergei Bubka suspended general secretary Volodymyr Gerashchenko after a BBC report said he offered to sell 100 tickets for the July 27-August 12 Games to a reporter posing as a ticket buyer.

Bubka, an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member who was attending meetings in Quebec City, said he would return home to Kiev, Ukraine, on Wednesday to the deal with the scandal.

"For us it is a really unpleasant situation, particularly for me as president of the National Olympic Committee," the former Olympic pole vault champion Bubka told reporters at a hastily arranged media briefing. "First I would like to say we have suspended Mr. Gerashchenko and started an investigation.

"We will create an independent commission to investigate what has happened."

Bubka said he had few details beyond the BBC report but had already informed Sebastian Coe, head of the London Olympic Organising Committee and IOC president Jacques Rogge of the situation.

The Ukraine Olympic Committee was allotted 2,900 tickets for distribution to various officials and groups.

Bubka, pole vault world record holder and a national hero in Ukraine, was clearly embarrassed and said he had plenty of questions for Gerashchenko, general secretary since 1997.

"This is an important issue, I need to act immediately, I need to be there," he said. "For me this is very important. This is my life. I am happy to be involved from my childhood, to dream to be an Olympic champion and then president of the Olympic NOC and a member of the IOC.

"We should make everything clear and stick to Olympic ideals and principles."

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Quebec City; Editing by Frank Pingue/Ian Ransom)

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