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5 Mar, 2010 16:44

Putin slams sports ministers, hints at misappropriation of funds

Upset by Russia’s dismal performance in Vancouver, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is serious about improving the level of competitiveness of the nation's athletes.

On Friday, Putin met with the heads of the winter sports organizations to discuss the measures that need to be taken so as to avoid a repeat performance of the recent Winter Games in Vancouver, especially with the Sochi Games on the horizon.

In addition to improving the nation’s sporting infrastructure, coaching staff and basic athletic achievements, Putin suggested that there were other reasons for the Russian team’s lackluster results in Vancouver.

Russia finished the Winter Games in a record-low 11th place, compared to a fourth-place finish in Turin just four years ago.

According to Putin, the misappropriation of funds may have had something to do with it.

“To prepare for the Vancouver Olympic, some 3.5 billion rubles (around $110 mln) were allocated to the Russian team from 2006 to 2009. And that was from federal sources alone,” the Prime Minister said.

Putin then reminded the leaders of Russia’s sporting institutions that other countries performed better than Russia with just as much investment.

“I'd like to note that this is five times more than what was allocated for the 2006 Turin Games, and quite comparable to amounts spent by countries who claimed the top positions in the overall medal standings in Vancouver,” Putin continued.

Prime Minister Putin then concluded the meeting with the suggestion that the allocated funds were somehow misappropriated.

“The question is bound to arise – was the money we allocated invested not where it should have been, but where the people in charge wanted it to go,”
he asked.

“We'll need to look into that,” Putin concluded.