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Vladimir Putin criticizes Russia's Olympic program

March 5, 2010 | 10:17 am

Putin Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday criticized Russia's effort in the Vancouver Olympic Games, echoing statements made earlier this week by the country's president.

During a government meeting to examine Russia's disappointing Olympic performance, Putin called for an overhaul of the country's Olympic program, aiming for a system that incorporates the best aspects of the "Soviet system of training athletes" along with modern facilities and better coaching.

Putin said he wants the country to build more sports facilities and increase coaches' salaries. He also attacked Russia's effort in Vancouver, stating the country spent $117 million over three years in preparation for the Games.

"I have got an impression that the more money we spend, the more modest the results are," said Putin, telling reporters the country spent five times more on the Vancouver Games than it did for the 2006 Olympics.

He went on to stress the importance of a Russian turnaround at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

"Sochi is our national project, and we will pay the maximum attention to that," Putin said. "Millions of fans are waiting for our team to become the winner. In any case, it must be among the leaders in Sochi in 2014."

Earlier this week, Russia President Dmitry Medvedev called for the resignation of the country's top sports officials. Leonid Tyagachev, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee, resigned Wednesday.

Russia won 15 medals in Vancouver and finished sixth in the medal standings -- its worst result since the breakup of the Soviet Union. From 1956 to 1988, the Soviet Union never finished lower than second in the medal count.

-- Austin Knoblauch

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Vladimir Putin speaks during a government meeting in Moscow on Friday. Credit: Sergei Chirikov / EPA