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IOC review Sochi ticket sales after London allegations

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is reviewing the sales process for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games after media allegations that tickets for London had ended up on the black market.

An Olympic movement source, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters that the IOC was discussing various options for Sochi but had not yet finalized a plan despite reports that the ticket process had been suspended.

The source added that a number of interim measures were under consideration.

The IOC said at the weekend it was investigating a report in Britain's Sunday Times newspaper that National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and Authorised Ticket Resellers (ATRs) representing some 54 nations had broken rules over the sale of London 2012 tickets.

The allegations have also been referred to the IOC's independent Ethics Commission.

The newspaper reported that numerous NOCs and ATRs were offering to buy or sell tickets outside their territories, to sell tickets at inflated prices or sell tickets to unauthorized resellers.

"The IOC takes these allegations very seriously. Should any irregularities be proven, the organization will deal with those involved in an appropriate manner," the Swiss-based body declared.

"The NOCs are autonomous organizations but if any of the cases are confirmed the IOC will not hesitate to impose the strongest sanctions," it added.

The London Olympics start on July 27 with most sports sold out early in the ticketing process and more than a million people unsuccessful in an initial ballot last year.

Sebastian Coe, chairman of organizers LOCOG, told the BBC that the allegations were a "deeply depressing scenario if its proven to be the case".

He cautioned that, with just 38 days to before the Games open in east London, there was not enough time for a full investigation before the competition started.

One of those named by the newspaper for allegedly illicit sales, the Greek Olympic Committee (HOC), issued a statement rejecting the "untrue and misleading" allegations.

It said ticket sales allocated to Greece for London had been assigned to a company run by Marcus Evans, the owner and chairman of English soccer club Ipswich Town, which won an international bid.

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

It added that the 300,000 euros received as a result of the bid were spent on preparing elite Greek Olympic athletes at a time when state funding had dried up due to the country's debt crisis.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann in Gdansk; Writing by Alan Baldwin; Editing by John O'Brien)