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Head of Russia's Olympic committee takes President Medvedev's advice and resigns

March 3, 2010 |  9:02 am

Russia Well, that didn't take long.

The head of Russia's Olympic committee resigned Wednesday, two days after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned the country's top Olympic officials would be fired if they did not step down voluntarily.

"Leonid Tyagachev has offered his resignation," committee spokesperson Gennady Shvets said, according to the Interfax news agency. "This obviously concerns the Russian athletes' performance at the Vancouver Olympic Games."

Medvedev expressed anger and frustration over Russia's disappointing performance in Vancouver during a televised statement Monday. Russia won 15 medals and finished sixth in the medal count -- its lowest ranking since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The country is eager to turn its Olympics program around since it will be hosting the next Winter Games in Sochi in 2014.

Tyagachev, 63, was instrumental in helping Russia secure the rights to the Sochi Games. He reportedly once worked as a ski instructor for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

So far, sports minister Vitaly Mutko has rejected calls for his resignation by Russian politicians. Still, he said he would resign if Medvedev's comments were in fact directed toward him.

Mutko blamed Russia's disappointing performance on bad luck and how new sports such as freestyle skiing are not taken seriously in the country. He also said several Russian medal contenders were banned because of doping.

-- Austin Knoblauch

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Leonid Tyagachev, left, at a press conference at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. Russian Olympic Committee spokesman Gennady Chvets is on the right. Credit: Gary Ambrose / Los Angeles Times

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