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Meeting on preparing Russian athletes for 2016 Olympics in Brazil

November 11, 2015, Sochi

Vladimir Putin held a meeting with heads of sports federation on getting the Russian sports teams ready for the XXXI Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016.

Before the meeting, the President visited the Federal Martial Arts Centre that has opened in Sochi. Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told Mr Putin about the centre’s possibilities and availability of similar training centres for the Russian athletes throughout the nation. Later, Vladimir Putin visited several gyms, watched training sessions and spoke with athletes and coaches.

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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,

Today we will discuss our national Olympic team’s preparedness for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. We did this before the last Olympics too. In this respect, I would like to say that 2015 is the third year in the Olympic cycle: the year when most qualifying rounds are held, when athletes are being selected for the upcoming Games. This period is largely indicativeand we can now preliminarily assess our athletes’ condition and the training process itself. There is still time to make the necessary adjustments.

I want to welcome the presidents of many Russian sports associations, head coaches of national teams for summer sports who are here at our meeting, so I hope our conversation will be substantive and concrete. Today, my colleagues and I toured the new Federal Martial Arts Centre and spoke with those who will represent Russia in Rio de Janeiro in these sports.

Overall, it should be noted that the conditions for the teams’ preparation are at a proper level. After the 2012 Olympics in London, 14 federal and regional training centres were built or rebuilt. Also, our national teams got 29 new sports facilities.

However – and we know this quite well – not all sports have their own professional and training facilities that fit specific sports. For example, we do not have any for the pentathlon or equestrian sports. Extra efforts are required to ensure high-quality training conditions for many other sports.

So, I suggest that the Sports Ministry gives this matter its utmost attention and consistently resolves all the problems that remain unsolved. This can and must be done within the framework of the Federal Targeted Programme for 2016–2020.

As for training plans, according to the Sports Ministry, they are being implemented in full and the national teams are getting everything they need: equipment, facilities, medical support and sports nutrition. Selections for the Olympics have not yet been completed; world championships have been held for 22 out of the 34 Olympic sports.

Our athletes have won 215 Olympic licenses and are third in the unofficial team count for Olympic events. By the end of 2015, global championships will be held for trampolining, weightlifting, handball and certain types of sailing.

In 2016, our athletes will compete for 181 individual and 31 team Olympic licenses. I will note here that the Olympic qualifying cycle has already shown our weak spots. These are nearly all types of team sports, track and field, road cycling, as well as swimming, shooting, rowing, triathlon, table tennis and badminton.

I ask our colleagues to tell us today about what has been done to change this situation, as well as how things stand overall with getting our summer sports athletes ready, including in terms of medical and biological as well as anti-doping support. Unfortunately, the fight against doping in sport remains relevant and requires thorough attention. I expect that we will discuss this today as well.

As for recent events involving our track and field federation, I want the Sports Minister and all our colleagues involved in sports in one way or another to give this careful attention.

Moreover, it is imperative to carry out our own internal investigation and ensure – I want to stress this – the most open and professional collaboration with international anti-doping agencies. We in Russia must do everything to eliminate this problem.

Indeed, I agree that this is not only Russia’s problem; but if our foreign colleagues have questions, these questions should be addressed, and it should be done through open – I repeat – professional, honest work with our colleagues. If needed, we can move on to organisational measures, but overall, we need to protect our athletes against the use of illegal drugs. First and foremost, this is necessary for our athletes’ health. And, of course, the competition should be fair. Sports events and competitions are attractive only when they are fair.

At the same time, it is clear that if we come to the conclusion that someone must be held responsible for something that violates the existing anti-doping rules, this responsibility must be personal. This is a common rule: responsibility must always be personal. And it’s absolutely certain that athletes who are far from doping, who have never touched drugs and do not do this, should not have to answer for those who break the rules. So I am asking you to take action along these lines and work in this direction with your colleagues from international organisations.

As for the Games in Rio de Janeiro, I am asking the Sports Ministry and the National Olympic Committee to focus on training the Russian national team athletes, to hold a joint meeting so as to clearly identify the measures and our specific action plans that will allow us to make the most of the time remaining until the Olympic Games. But naturally, we will be able to see just how well this work was carried out based on the results in Rio de Janeiro.

In conclusion, I would like to once again stress that training athletes for the main competitions and main matches is not an easy thing. These are long years of hard professional work. And responsibility for the results does not lie with the athletes alone. Here, it is important to have close cooperation and joint, precise actions by coaches, experts from our sports federations, the National Olympic Committee, the Sports Ministry and the regions. And I ask you all to take an active part in this joint work.

Thank you for your attention.


November 11, 2015, Sochi