London - The International Olympic Committee has launched an investigation into allegations that Olympic officials and agents have been offering tickets to the upcoming London Games on the black market.
The IOC called an emergency meeting of its executive board on Saturday, after The Sunday Times newspaper in the United Kingdom presented a dossier of evidence on 27 officials controlling the tickets for 54 countries.
The newspaper claimed several thousand tickets to the best events - including the men's 100m final - had been put up for sale by national Olympic committees from their official ticket quotas at vastly inflated prices.
IOC rules forbid member national committees from selling tickets abroad, inflating ticket prices or to sell tickets to unauthorised resellers.
But the Sunday Times said its undercover reporters, posing as envoys of a Middle Eastern ticket dealer, found 27 agents willing to sell tickets for up to £6 000 each to a variety of high profile events at the London Games.
The IOC said in a statement on its website Saturday it "takes these allegations very seriously and has immediately taken the first steps to investigate."
"The NOCs are autonomous organisations, but if any of the cases are confirmed the IOC will not hesitate to impose the strongest sanctions."
The IOC also said it would take on board any recommendations from the inquiry to improve the way that tickets are distributed and sold internationally in the future.
These latest claims come after a top Ukrainian Olympic official resigned in May following allegations that he offered to sell thousands of dollars worth of tickets for the London Games on the black market.
Volodymyr Gerashchenko, secretary general of Ukraine's national Olympic committee, was accused in a BBC television report of telling an undercover reporter posing as an unauthorized dealer that he was willing to sell up to 100 tickets for cash.