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Athlete: Egyptian Olympians given fake Nike gear

From Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, For CNN
July 26, 2012 -- Updated 1922 GMT (0322 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A swimmer says bags have Nike logos and an Adidas zipper
  • Fencers complained about the size of the attire, a distributor says
  • Official: You can't "tell the difference between the original and the fake ones"
  • Nike says it is discussing the allegations with Egyptian officials

Cairo (CNN) -- Members of Egypt's Olympic team were given fake Nike gear to wear during training in London, athletes and a distributor said.

Synchronized swimmer Yomna Khallaf described the kit Egypt's athletes received in a series of Twitter posts this week.

"The bags for example have (a) big Nike logo in the front and the zippers are Adidas," Khallaf wrote.

Officials accepted a bid from an unauthorized vendor who offered Nike gear at half the price, according to Adly el-Shafie, the commercial director of Nike's only agent and distributor in Egypt. El-Shafie said he notified Egyptian officials twice that they had purchased counterfeit gear from an unauthorized distributor, but received no response.

"The scandal was clear when Egypt's Olympic fencing team approached us complaining about the sizes of their training kit and attire to be worn around the Olympic Village," said el-Shafie, commercial director of Allied Trading and Consulting.

A senior official from the Egyptian Olympic Committee's London delegation declined CNN's request for comment. But Egypt's top Olympics official defended the move in an interview with the state-owned Ahram Online news site.

"We bought the clothing from a Nike agent. You can never tell the difference between the original and the fake ones," Gen. Mahmoud Ahmed Ali, chairman of the Egyptian Olympic Committee, told Ahram Online. "All Nike products in the Egyptian market are made in China. They all have the same logo. How can you know?"

Ali urged the U.S.-based company to trace the agent who sold them the counterfeit clothing and to "sue him."

"It's like if somebody created false coins and you happened to possess them. Is it your fault then?" he said.

In a statement Thursday, Nike said it was discussing the allegations with Egyptian officials and trying to reach a solution for Egypt's Olympic team, which has 113 athletes competing in 19 sports.

"Nike is highly concerned that if these allegations are true, the athletes will have received products that do not meet Nike's quality standards," the company said in a statement. "Nike's authorized distributor in Egypt sent two official communications to the EOC on this issue weeks ago and on July 20, 2012, Nike also sent a written communication to the EOC requesting the Committee to take immediate action."

Officials responded for the first time Wednesday, Nike said, adding that the company believes the issue with the Egyptian Olympic Committee is an "isolated incident."

"We are currently cooperating with the EOC toward reaching a solution within the next 48 hours," el-Shafie told CNN on Wednesday.

In the meantime, Khallaf said in a Twitter post that she shelled out 2,000 Egyptian pounds ($330) of her own money to buy new gear.

"It's so frustrating that we had to pay extra...to have other proper stuff to wear so that we can look okay, not even good," she wrote.

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