Russians announce funding probe

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced a probe into the ineffective use of funds to prepare athletes for the Vancouver Olympics, the country's worst Winter Games.


Traditionally a Winter Olympic powerhouse, Russia finished 11th in the medals table, winning three gold medals to Canada's 14.

"The problem is not so much a lack of resources as their ineffective use," Medvedev told a gathering of top sporting officials in the resort town of Sochi, where Russia will host the next Winter Olympics in 2014. "The Audit Chamber on my order is already checking the use of budget funds aimed at preparing for the Vancouver Olympics."

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the country's most powerful politician, complained earlier this month that Russia spent five times as much money on last month's Winter Games as on the 2006 Turin Olympics, where Russia secured eight golds.

Medvedev has previously called on top sports officials to resign or face dismissal over the Vancouver showing. Russian Olympic Committee chief Leonid Tygachyov, Deputy Sports Minister Gennady Alyoshin and cross-country skiing federation president Vladimir Loginov have since quit.

Medvedev used Friday's meeting to criticise Russia's own officials on international sports bodies who he said were not representing the country effectively.

He also hinted that doping controls were being used to target the country's athletes after a spate of positive test results for banned substances, which has tarnished Russia's image.

"We need to break this image and do all that is necessary. But doping scandals to a certain extent are a way to settle scores and are a part of global sporting competition.

"So we need to be able to strike back and be able to defend ourselves without turning the other cheek," he said.

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