Hot in Russia: Blame Game for Gold Medal Dearth

An Olympic-fed furor

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While the U.S. and Canada swoon over their Winter Olympics success, Russia's paucity of medals has the country's commentators fuming. CNN reports bloggers' lamentations: "It's been a total washout ... It hurts to see," writes one. The Moscow Times reports President Medvedev's assurances that "heads would roll." Editorials from Russia are clamoring for someone to pay the price, with some looking back fondly on the Soviet Union's sports training system.

  • 'You Can See the Failure ... Just By Walking Into a Russian Souvenir Shop,' declares an editorial at La Russophobe, a politics blog run by an American expat who is now the Russia correspondent for Pajamas Media. "Just as the Kremlin told Russians they'd do great at the Vancouver Olympiad and turned out to be lying shamelessly, the Kremlin's claims about being able to conduct a successful Olympiad four years from now in Sochi (a beach resort!) are equally dishonest." Adds another editorial, "Even for a country whose history is littered with as many humiliating, disgraceful moments as Russia's, the 2010 Winter Olympics were a startling new low."
  • Political Opportunity in Public Furor  "After Russia's poor performance in the Olympic Games," writes Alexei Pankin in The Moscow Times, "the people are united in their hunger to see not just a proper flogging but a veritable bloodbath for the country's sports officials. Judging by the fact that Medvedev on Monday called on the country's Olympic bureaucrats to resign or face being fired in disgrace, he is intent not to miss this opportunity."
  • Failure! Robbed!  In an article for Pravda, Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey suggests drug policing at the Olympics was administered unfairly, and rants about the number of Russian medals: "Not bad by the standards of many but paltry for Russia. Now we see the value of the Soviet sports schools, now we see the value of the Youth Movements which raised children who were proud to represent and win for their country. It was not the Soviet Union that collapsed in the early 90s, it was discipline, fibre and morals."
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