News - Olympic Games

Thirty international websites and 970 individuals targeted in operation against London 2012 ticket touts and scams
A hitlist of 30 international websites and 970 individuals, many linked to serious organised crime, are being targeted by police investigating the multimillion-pound black market in sports tickets in the runup to the Olympics.
One man is being hunted in Belgium for attempting to sell large quantities of Olympic tickets, and the Metropolitan police are liaising with the US national Olympic committee over several unauthorised sites attempting to sell seats illegally.
In the UK, known touts have tried to breach the official website selling Olympic tickets. About 100 attempted to buy seats in order to sell them on illegally, it is understood, but were identified and failed to do so.
In a separate case, an international ticketing company has been summonsed to appear before magistrates next month charged with the illegal sale of Olympic tickets.
With 38 days to go until the Games opening ceremony, the scale of the challenge facing the police charged with deterring, intercepting and bringing to justice criminals who make millions out of illegal ticket sales is huge and stretches across international boundaries.
DS Nick Downing, who is leading the British police's fight against organised crime exploiting the Games, said the Met's operation, known as Podium, was robust and innovative but would not be able to stop every ticketing scam.
Downing is examining information from a Sunday Times investigation containing evidence that Olympic officials and agents were prepared to sell thousands of tickets for up to £6,000 each. The investigation alleged 27 agents representing 54 countries – more than a quarter of the 204 nations attending the Games – were attempting to sell tickets illegally.
"The Metropolitan police here are trying to police the world and it's a massive police and intelligence challenge," Downing said. "We are doing everything we can to raise public awareness and to deter criminals from getting involved in this. The national Olympic committees and foreign law enforcement agencies have to detain people and disrupt activities also."
Selling Olympic tickets in the UK or abroad without authorisation from the London organising committee, Locog, is a criminal offence liable to a £20,000 fine under the 2006 Olympic Act.
One of the greatest threats to ticketing comes from international websites purporting to sell seats. Some may be selling unauthorised tickets illegally or committing fraud by selling tickets that do not exist.
E-crime detectives at Scotland Yard working with Podium officers are examining 30 websites over such suspicions.
None of the sites are registered in the UK, and Downing said this was testament to the proactive action taken here in the past two years.
"We are a hostile environment," Downing said. "Our approach has been pre-emptive from the start using every police tactic available and working with industry to target offenders. For example, in the early days anyone who registered a domain name containing the word Olympics was contacted and warned that if they intended to sell 2012 tickets they should think again."
Police believe evidence of fraud and ticketing scams is likely to emerge over the next few weeks as seats bought on any fraudulent websites fail to arrive at addresses.
Downing's team have examined evidence and intelligence from sporting events including the Beijing Olympics, where touts were plentiful outside the stadiums and more than 10,000 people, including the parents of the British swimmer Rebecca Adlington, fell victim to a £5m internet ticketing scam run by British criminals.
Pre-emptive operations have focused on individuals known to target sporting and music events including Wimbledon, Premier League football matches and the Rugby World Cup. Downing's team has arrested 186 people, and 100 have been charged – including 29 for fraud involving ticket sales, 38 for ticket touting (including three cases involving the alleged illegal sale of Olympic seats), and three for money laundering.
Three men accused of involvement in an alleged £3m black market in tickets for sporting and music events are awaiting trial next year on charges of money laundering and fraud.
Separately the international ticketing company Euroteam AS, based in Norway, has been summonsed to Westminster magistrates court on 4 July over 22 alleged offences of unauthorised sale of Olympic tickets.
Police have drawn up a hitlist of 970 individuals they believe could be part of a black market in Olympic tickets. All those on the list, who either have previous convictions for ticket touting or have emerged through Podium's inquiries, have been warned to stay away from the Games and will be subject to other disruptive action and arrest if intelligence suggests they are trying to sell seats for the Olympics.
Many are at one end of a chain linking to known organised crime groups, police believe. "What we have uncovered shows that organised crime networks of the highest level which are known to us are involved in ticketing offences," said Downing.
"This is a multimillion-pound crime. We won't know until the opening ceremony whether our action against ticket touts has worked, but what we do know is that we have taken the most robust action to keep them away." ends
Police are appealing for members of the public who purchased Olympic tickets through two websites – and – to come forward amid fears they have been defrauded. The sites have been disabled but detectives, who have been working with the Portuguese authorities, fear they may already have lured many victims into purchasing non-existent tickets.
Meanwhile, a 44-year-old man has been charged with two counts of fraud and the unauthorised sale of Olympic tickets.

-Sandra Laville, crime correspondent


June 13 - David Millar, who served a two-year suspension from 2004 to 2006 after admitting to taking banned blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO), has been named in the Great Britain cycling squad for London 2012, it was announced today.

He has been included alongside a strong team that also includes Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish.

The 35-year-old was handed a two-year suspension for admitting use of banned blood booster EPO, but is now a fervent anti-doping campaigner and was last month officially cleared to compete at London 2012 after the British Olympic Association's bylaw banning drug cheats for life was controversially lifted.

Five riders from a list of Millar, Cavendish, Steve Cummings, Chris Froome, Jeremy Hunt, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift and Bradley Wiggins will be chosen to compete in the road race at London 2012.

But Millar (pictured below left) played an integral role in Cavendish's World Championships win last September and is almost certain to fill one of the spots when the final team is named for the road race on July 28, which represents one of the earliest opportunities for Britain to celebrate its first gold medal of the Games.

It will be the first time that Millar has competed in the Olympics since Sydney 12 years ago.

Miller had originally said he would not make himself available for selection when his lifetime Olympic selection ban was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

But he then had a change of heart, saying it would have been "selfish and stupid" not to make himself available as a possible team-mate for gold medal contender Cavendish in the road race.

The women's shortlist has also been revealed, with four to be chosen from Lizzie Armitstead, Nicole Cooke, Katie Colclough, Sharon Laws, Lucy Martin and Emma Pooley.

Cooke is the defending champion, following her memorable victory in Beijing four years ago, but Armitstead is the favourite to be nominatd as the team leader.

British Cycling has to submit its final decision by June 18.

The squad selected is the strongest that Britain can choose from, including Sir Chris, who will become the most successful Olympian in British history if he wins another gold medal in London.

He has four gold medals and a silver from his three appearances in the Olympics and will surpass rower Sir Steve Redgrave, who has five gold and one bronze, if he retains one of the three titles he claimed in Beijing.

But it has not yet been confirmed whether he will defend all three titles, with his place looking assured in the team sprint and keirin but Jason Kenny pushing hard for the lone spot in the individual sprint.

Members of the track, BMX and mountain biking teams have also been confirmed by Team GB.

"We have selected what I believe to be an excellent team going into an Olympic Games and we have a good mix of experienced Olympians alongside young riders who are making their Olympic debut," said team leader Dave Brailsford (pictured above with Sir Chris).

"We still have some decisions to make, for example, the road teams will be refined in due course and who will ride what event on the track will be determined nearer the time.

"Overall, though, the GB Cycling Team has had a strong season across all the disciplines and we are ready to step up again at the Olympics."

Britain won a total of 14 medals in Beijing, eight of them gold, but controversial changes to the track cycling programme for London 2012 means it is unlikely it will surpass that total in London.

But Sir Chris is still relishing the opportunity to compete before a home crowd.

"The standard in the British Cycling team is so high and the selection process is always going to be tough, but there's a great atmosphere in the team and we just need to keep putting in the hours in training and make sure we're in the best shape possible for race day," he said.

"This is my fourth Olympics, but my first home Games, and it's going to be an amazing experience and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all of us."

The full team is:

Sprint: Philip Hindes, Sir Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, Victoria Pendleton, Jessica Varnish.

Endurance: Steven Burke, Ed Clancy, Peter Kennaugh, Andy Tennant, Geraint Thomas, Wendy Houvenaghel, Dani King, Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell.

Road: Men (five to be selected): Mark Cavendish, Steven Cummings, Chris Froome, Jeremy Hunt, David Millar, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift, Bradley Wiggins; Women (four to be selected): Lizzie Armitstead, Nicole Cooke, Katie Colclough, Sharon Laws, Lucy Martin, Emma Pooley.

BMX: Liam Phillips, Shanaze Reade.

Mountain bike: Liam Killeen, Annie Last.

-Duncan Mackay


June 12 - Andy Hunt, the Team GB Chef de Mission and chief executive of the British Olympic Association (BOA), said today that the criteria for team selections need to be made "much clearer" and added that his organisation would launch a thorough review after the London 2012 Games aimed at making decisions more transparent.

The BOA has been embroiled in a number of contentious selection questions in recent weeks, including in fencing, where the three final team members were announced here, triathlon, where two places went controversially to athletes dedicated to assisting others towards medals, and taekwondo, where Aaron Cook is considering whether to take legal action following his controversial omission from the British team.

"I think there is a commerciality which is probably the changing nature of Olympic sport generally," said Hunt (pictured above).

"For ourselves at the BOA it's been a learning track in that we will after the Games find a bit of time looking at how we deal as much as possible with subjectivity and in exceptional cases where we do need to be exercising judgement on special cases we need to make the criteria much clearer and perhaps ranked so that other people can understand how these judgements have been made.

"I don't think anybody should have any concern about exactly how we are making these decisions."

Hunt insisted, however, that the BOA was totally satisfied that selection policy had been followed faithfully by GB Taekwondo in choosing Muhammad Lutalo rather than Cook (pictured below, left), who is ranked world number one, for the -80kg place.

"We probably spent collectively at the BOA over 200 hours on that one issue," he said.

"That's a fact.

"Two hundred hours.

"I'm confident that the end point we got to – although there were lots of people who don't necessarily like the outcome – our job was to make sure that fair process in accordance of the selection policy was totally followed.

"And I am utterly confident that is what took place.

"Hence why the nomination was ratified."

He added that he had yet to hear back from the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) about how they wish to proceed with their impending review of selection processes.

Hunt accepted that Britain's option of host nation qualification places this year had created a unique pressure on selection processes.

"With host nation places available, the selection policies are different to qualifying on merit," he said.

"So you do get more perhaps subjective judgements needing to be made as to who will put up the most credible performance or who has the most potential for 2016.

"So that's a part of it.

"There's also a massive interest in competing at a home Games.

"And the third factor is that there are more sponsors, more agents, more interested parties in supporting athletes fighting to the last moment to be named as an individual on the team.

"You are seeing a little bit of change that we will see, probably, going forwards.

"But there are very few athletes who are resorting to legal action.

"There are quite a lot who have appealed to their governing body.

"There are very few whose appeals have been upheld.

"There's obviously one case where it's spiralled into involvement with ourselves.

"Having said that, we look very, very carefully wherever there is an appeal.

"We will see the minutes, we will go through it in detail, we are looking at the selection policy to make sure it follows exactly what is set out and we are comfortable with it.

"To take the example of fencing, we are completely comfortable they followed due process and none of the appeals were upheld and therefore there was no requirement for re-selection.

"An athlete might then try and take some other action, but in every case an athlete signs up to the selection policy, and that is usually a binding process.

"I am really sympathetic to the incredible journey many athletes have made in trying to make selection.

"But to take the example of triathlon domestiques, that has always been a selection policy.

"That's what every athlete signs up to.

"This journey they were going into involved trying to be selected because they had the potential to reach the podium or they were supporting the other athletes getting there.

"Retrospectively some athletes might now say to themselves, 'I wish there was a different approach,' but that's too late.

"We have reviewed that and support what the governing body is trying to do.

"At the end of the day they will be judged by the results."

By Mike Rowbottom at the Institute of Education in London


June 9 - British Triathlon precipitated another controversy over London 2012 selection today.

They took the calculated decision to maximise the already strong medal chances of the Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonathan (pictured above left and right), and Helen Jenkins by filling two of their six places in the London 2012 team with riders whose duty will be to assist the podium prospects of the trio who have lodged themselves at the top of the sport in recent years.

But the decision to pick Stuart Hayes and Lucy Hall as "domestiques", along with the sixth selection, Vicky Holland, means there is no place at the Games for the likes of Will Clarke, former world champion and triple Olympian Tim Don, Liz Blatchford and Jodie Stimpson, even though they failed to reach the team on merit according to strict qualification criteria which required podium finishes in world series races.

Blatchford tweeted: "Now that it is official I can say I am devastated to have been left off the GB Olympic team" and added it was "a hard pill to swallow" and "really gutting"

Alistair (pictured), the elder of the two Brownlee brothers at 24, was world champion in 2009 and 2001 and celebrated his return to action today after an Achilles tendon tear by claiming a joint victory with his 22-year-old brother at the BlenheimTriathlon.

Jonathan finished second in the world behind Alistair last year, and has won the 2012 San Diego and Madrid races in brother's absence.

Jenkins, 28, was world champion in 2008 under old one-off format and in 2011 under new season-long format and looks a real force.

Holland, 26, is the best-performing British woman beyond Jenkins in 2012, having finished fifth in San Diego and seventh in Madrid.

The two "domestiques" are Hayes, 33, who had his one world series win in Austria two years ago and his big selling point is speed on the bike, and Hall, 20, who registered her first senior international victory in March but has barely competed at elite world level.

She is particularly swift in the swim and bike disciplines.

"The selectors made it very clear that if I was going to take this place on the team, I would be going as someone to help [Helen Jenkins (pictured)]," Hall said.

"It would be team tactics - I wouldn't be going as an individual, which I never thought I would anyway.

"I know I'm not a fast enough runner."

"It's hard, because two of those people have basically walked onto an Olympic team," said Clarke, 27, who is currently ranked 12th in world governing body the International Triathlon Union's (ITU) Olympic rankings.

Don is ranked 13th, with Hayesm who began the 2012 season injured, 46th.

"There's not really any other sport like that, where someone qualifies so easily considering what others like us have been through," added Clarke.

"We've been racing at the top level around the world for years, gaining ranking points, and they've walked onto the Olympic team.

"But I'm still good friends with Stuey [Hayes] and I wish him all the best."

Hall defended her selection, saying: "I'm a human being, I'm not a rock.

"I do have feelings.

"As an athlete I can see it from their perspective but I hope people don't see it as my fault and they realise I was selected to do a job.

"Everyone can't be happy with the decision - people are always going to be upset.

"That's how it is, that's sport.

"It's horrible to think some people don't get to fulfil their Olympic dreams - I hope they understand why I'm taking this opportunity.

"It's a home Olympics; I can't turn it down."

-Mike Rowbottom


The fastest sprinter in the world he may be, but Usain Bolt still has to make the Jamaican team for the Olympics in London starting next month.

And it is with next week's trials in Kingston in mind that the reigning double Olympic sprint champion is tackling his 100m outing at the Diamond League meet here on Thursday.

"I can't complain. The key thing is that I'm injury free and that's always a good thing. Everything's been coming together slowly but surely. I'm happy where everything is at, I'm making progress,'' Bolt said.

The 25-year-old rebounded from a "slow'', albeit winning performance in Ostrava in 10.04sec with a blistering 9.76sec in Rome last week, blaming his performance in the Czech Republic on a lack of sleep and chilly conditions.

"I came to Europe to run these races to make sure that everything was going well and my coach could analyse my race and figure out what was going wrong to work on it and get me ready for the trials and Olympics.''

Bolt will be up against compatriot Asafa Powell, the former world record holder who has run an amazing 76 sub-10sec 100m but has lost 10 of his 11 races against the current world record holder in both the 100 and 200m.

"This race is very important because it puts you in a good state of mind,'' said Powell, making his sixth appearance at the Bislett Games.

"It makes you very comfortable with competing and going into the trials, it shows it shouldn't be a big problem to make it through.''

Bolt played down comments by American Justin Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic champion who has been in resurgent form after returning from a long drugs ban, that he wouldn't settle for anything less than gold come the London Games.

"Nobody wants to be second or third place. Everybody wants gold so it's what you do on the day that counts. That's what everybody wants - gold,'' said Bolt, who has won all but one of his 11 races against Powell.

"There's a lot or running left to go. I'm never worried about one direct person, it's about seven persons in the lanes beside me.

"I focus on what I do, my technique. I'm just looking forward to my trials first and then the Olympics.''

Asked which event he preferred, Bolt said: "I love my 200m and that's what I always dreamed to be, the 200m champion, because that's what I started out in.

"But the 100m is the glory event and I definitely want to double.''

Bolt also suggested that a time of sub-19sec could potentially be on the cards on a perfect day.

"You can't pinpoint the time, but over the years, me and my coach (Glen Mills) have discussed 18sec, running under 19. It's just a thought, we haven't really said it's possible that I could do it.

"If everything goes well, execution is right, you never know, it could be possible.''



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