Two senior officials of the Malta Olympic Committee (MOC) were rapped in a report by an international sports body after a five-month international investigation into ticket selling.
Lino Farrugia Sacco, MOC president and a serving judge in Malta, and the MOC’s secretary general Joe Cassar were among six officials named by the International Olympics Committee’s ethics commission, which launched the probe following an investigation by The Sunday Times of London.
Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco and Mr Cassar were secretly filmed by undercover reporters who were posing as agents seeking to buy tickets allocated to Malta for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
“By agreeing to take part in a discussion concerning the ATR (authorised ticket reseller) contract for the Games in Sochi, when it was apparent that his interlocutors seemed to be looking for ways to circumvent the official mechanism, Mr Farrugia (Sacco) allowed the journalists to prove their point,” the ethics commission said after taking cognisance of all the evidence, including Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco’s observations.
Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco has always denied any wrongdoing.
With regard to Mr Cassar, the IOC commission said that by explaining “which means could be used to get around the mechanism”, he helped to prove the journalists’ point that the sports world and those who work for it “are prepared to violate the rules”.
“As a result, Mr Cassar helped the reputation of the Olympic movement to be tarnished,” it said.
In a statement yesterday, the MOC, on behalf of its president, noted that Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco was not present when the words attributed to Mr Cassar (about getting around the mechanism) were uttered. He became aware of such comments two months later, the MOC said.
In the secretly filmed footage, Mr Cassar could be heard saying high mark-ups for tickets could be “camouflaged”.
In its statement last night, the MOC said the footage posted on The Sunday Times website had been “doctored in order to give that impression”.
However, Malta was not among the countries investigated for reselling tickets on the black market.
The IOC ethics commission’s report singles out six officials in four countries: Malta, Greece, Lithuania and Serbia.
The Lithuanian national committee has since said it is seeking additional information before deciding whether to take legal action.
Pointing out that NOC officials did not “appear to have had the intention of making personal use of the sums in question”, the IOC ethics commission said the acts alleged by The Sunday Times with regard to the officials were “fully or partially proved”.
It insisted that everyone performing a leadership role “must behave impeccably and do nothing to tarnish the reputation of the Olympic movement”.
“If this is not the case, the individuals concerned must draw the necessary consequences therefrom,” it added, saying that the Olympic Charter did not provide for sanctioning of national committee officials.
“That is up to the NOCs or the individuals concerned to take the necessary steps based on each individual situation where the reputation of the Olympic Movement has been tarnished.”
The commission also called for a review of the entire ticket sales system to ensure such situations did not reoccur.
Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco and Mr Cassar could not be reached for comment after a number of attempts yesterday.
The Times spoke to his lawyer who said he had not yet consulted his client on the matter and would be in a position to comment today.
Sources said Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco and Mr Cassar were due to be abroad on official duty at a congress of the European Olympic Committees.
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