"2010 Games could be toughest yet for Russia" – official

The 2010 Olympic Games, which kick off in Vancouver on February 12, could be the most challenging ever for Russia, according to Vice President of the Russian Olympic Committee Vladimir Vasin.

The nation is currently represented by the generation of the 90s, a decade that saw sparse development. But with increased investment the situation should improve soon.

Meanwhile, Vasin remains optimistic about the Vancouver Olympics.

“We have the grounds to hope that our skiers can compete – they show it today and it’s their duty to do so. Our biathletes also do well. Just take the recent women’s races. The women’s speed skating team won a World Cup leg in Canada and the figure skaters are not to be forgotten. We also have World Cup winners and podium finishers in bobsledding. So if you take this wide range of disciplines there’s quite a lot to look for,” Vasin said.

Another item on the agenda was doping, and the official pledged that there would be no positive tests from the Russian team in Canada.

”All athletes will be ‘clean.’ Our country has a very strict approach towards this issue. It is better not to go to the Olympics than to engage in scandal and disgrace yourself. At the moment we have no reason not to trust our athletes,” he said.

Athletes from the USSR and Russia have won 260 medals, including 111 golds, throughout the history of Winter Olympics – more than any other nation.