Sports minister dismisses corruption allegations

Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has dismissed accusations of multi-million misappropriation during the preparation for the Vancouver Olympics. The official said there is no corruption in his ministry whatsoever.

The disastrous performance of the Russian team at the Winter Games triggered large-scale checks into the activities of the officials responsible for the preparation. This ended in the prosecutor’s office launching two fraud cases on Thursday.

Mutko believes that the accusations “are a mix of both reality and unreliability.”

“Speaking formally, no specific budget to prepare for Vancouver was registered. A figure of six billion roubles (approximately $200 million) is being named, but it formed with the money from the Ministry of Sports, Federal Agency and regions. The Accounts Chamber has taken all four years of spending into account. But this money was spent not only on the Olympics, but also on preparations for the…World and European championships,” the minister told Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.

The prosecutors accuse sporting officials of misspending 213 million roubles (around $7.5 million), but Mutko says that sports is the least corrupt branch of all the others in Russia.

“Perhaps disappointment is in place here, but there is for sure no crime. This is competition: somebody wins today and the other triumphs tomorrow. So I do not know what the global corruption here is. I do not see it… We are all open. I am ready to make public all our expenses,” he said.

At the same time, Mutko admitted that the Russian Team, who finishing in a miserable 11th place in the overall medals table (three gold, five silver and seven bronze) in Vancouver, wasn’t well prepared for the games, being competitive in only four disciplines out of 11.

“Within two or three years, we have to solve the problem of federal training centers. We have only three centers of such kind at the moment… We must create the material basis,” the official stated.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Accounts Chamber Sergey Stepashin, whose office initiated the criminal cases, stressed that the investigation against the sports officials is absolutely justified.

“Say that the test results of the inspection have no relation to the agency, which is responsible for it, is at least legally illiterate,” he stressed.

Earlier, Chairman of the Audit Chamber, said that the there are questions concerning the funding of training of athletes, who participated for the 2010 Olympics. The spending of the six billion roubles allocated for this means was labeled as unsatisfactory as the required items were purchased without tenders – which are mandatory for such cases – and finance accounting was performed by an unknown organization.