Do svidanja to Russian Olympic officials

MOSCOW (AP) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev demanded Monday
that sports officials step down over the country's dismal
performance at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Russia, a traditional winter sports powerhouse, won just 15
medals - with only three golds - in one of its worst performances.
Officials said before the games that 30 medals and a top-three
finish in the medal standings was the target.
Russia placed 11th for golds and sixth in the overall medal
count.
In televised comments, Medvedev said if those responsible for
preparing the athletes don't resign then the decision will be made
for them. He did not mention anyone by name.
"Those who bear the responsibility for Olympic preparations
should carry that responsibility. It's totally clear," Medvedev
said. "I think that the individuals responsible, or several of
them, who answer for these preparations, should take the courageous
decision to hand in their notice. If we don't see such
decisiveness, we will help them."
In post-Soviet history, Russia had never finished outside the
top five in the medal standings and only won fewer medals once
before, in 2002 at Salt Lake City. Russia was the top nation at the
1994 Lillehammer Games, garnering 23 medals - 11 of them gold.
In nine Winter Olympics between 1956 and 1988, the Soviet Union
failed to top the medal standings only twice, finishing runner-up
on both occasions.
Medvedev lamented that Russia "has lost the old Soviet school
... and we haven't created our own school - despite the fact that
the amount of money that is invested in sport is unprecedentedly
high."
The results leave Russia particularly red-faced as it takes the
torch for the next games in its Black Sea resort of Sochi in 2014.
"Without messing around, we need to start preparations for
Sochi. But taking into account what happened in Vancouver, we need
to completely change how we prepare our athletes," Medvedev said.
In an interview with the newspaper Vremya Novostei, sports
minister Vitaly Mutko blamed several factors for the Vancouver
flop. New sports such as freestyle skiing that "no one takes
seriously" in Russia have allowed other countries to race ahead,
he said.
Mutko also claimed luck was not on the country's side, saying in
several disciplines Russia lacked "a shot here, a second or a
point there," singling out Evgeni Plushenko, who took silver
behind Evan Lysacek of the United States in a closely fought men's
figure skating competition.
Doping bans had also deprived Russia of several leading medal
contenders, he said.
Several Russian politicians have called for Mutko, who was
appointed sports minister in May 2008, to step down.


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