Apparently, the Russian government is taking the relatively poor showing by the country’s Olympic team very seriously. The “fat cats” who were responsible for training the athletes have been ordered to resign or “we will help them”:
President Medvedev said those who trained the Russian team before the Vancouver games should “have the courage to step down” as a result of Russia’s woeful medals tally. If they refused to resign “we will help them”, he said bluntly.
Over the weekend Medvedev abruptly cancelled a scheduled visit to last night’s closing ceremony, apparently in disgust. “We must drastically change the training of our athletes . . . We have been living on Soviet resources for a long time. But that is over now,” Medvedev told the ruling United Russia Party.
He added: “Unprecedented investments are being made in sports in Russia. But money is not everything. We should think about changing the training methods. The new training system must focus on athletes rather than on fat cats.”
Opposition politicians demanded the sacking of the sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, and Russian Olympic committee president Leonid Tyagachyev, both close allies of Putin. The pair were antiheroes, the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper said, ridiculing Tyagachyev’s Panglossian prediction Russia would finish in the top three.
It would probably be wise for the so-called “fat cats” to get out while they can. An embarassed Russian government will probably not be acting with grace or tact.