Reports: Russian Olympic Committee chief resigns after worst Winter Games medal haul

By David Nowak, AP
Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Russian Olympic chief resigns after Vancouver flop

MOSCOW — The head of the Russian Olympic Committee resigned Wednesday in the wake of the traditional powerhouse’s worst performance at the Winter Games, news agencies reported.

Leonid Tyagachev, a former sports minister who’d led the committee since 2001, stepped down two days after President Dmitry Medvedev warned that sports officials would be fired if they failed to resign voluntarily.

“Leonid Tyagachev has offered his resignation,” committee spokesman Gennady Shvets said, according to the Interfax news agency. “This obviously concerns the Russian athletes’ performance at the Vancouver Olympic Games.”

Russia won just 15 medals — only three golds — two fewer than its previous low in Salt Lake City in 2002.

Officials said before the Vancouver Games that 30 medals and a top-three finish in the medal standings were the targets. Russia placed 11th for golds and sixth in the overall medal count, results that proved particularly embarrassing as the country takes the torch for the next Winter Olympics in its Black Sea resort of Sochi in 2014.

The 63-year-old Tyagachev helped Russia win hosting rights to the Sochi Games. He is a personal friend and, according to some Russian news reports, a former ski instructor of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

There was no word on a replacement.

Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said Tuesday in televised comments that he would “calmly leave” his post if Medvedev’s warnings were directed at him. Mutko — who has so far resisted calls to resign from a wide array of Russian politicians — on Monday blamed several factors for the Vancouver flop.

He said the team was unlucky, that no one in Russia takes new winter sports such as freestyle skiing seriously and doping bans had deprived Russia of several leading medal contenders.

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