Russia’s poor showing at the Winter Olympics did not sit well with the country. According to The Associated Press, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the country's sports officials to resign after its athletes took home just 15 medals and three golds from Vancouver.
Medvedev wants Russia’s Olympic program to have new leadership as the country prepares to host the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
"Those who bear the responsibility for Olympic preparations should carry that responsibility. It's totally clear," Medvedev said in televised comments. "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 nine Winter Olympics between 1956 and 1988, the Soviet Union topped the medal standings seven times. Since then, Russia has always finished among the top five countries in the medal standings and only won fewer medals than this year in 2002 at Salt Lake City. As early as 16 years ago, at the 1994 Lillehammer Games, the Russians won the most medals (23, including 11 gold).
Medvedev believes Russia’s dismal performance is the result of not evolving since the end of the Soviet Union, even though the money spent on sports is "unprecedentedly high."
"For a long time, we have benefitted from Soviet achievements," Medvedev said. "At some point, they ran out. We have lost the Soviet sports school. It is simply gone, but we have not formed our own system."
Russia fell well short of its 30-medals target and top-three finish in the medal standings, and placed sixth overall in the medal count and 11th for golds.
Sports minister Vitaly Mutko, in an interview with newspaper Vremya Novostei, cited new sports such as freestyle skiing as the reason for Russia's failure. He also said that many of the top competitors were ineligible to contend because of doping bans.
In an attempt to further relieve himself of responsibility, Mutko also blamed bad luck as an excuse, offering Evgeni Plushenko as an example. Plushenko came in second in the men's figure skating competition behind Evan Lysacek of the U.S.
Mutko is one of the officials on the hot seat.
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