By Duncan Mackay in Vancouver

March 2 - Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko (pictured) has offered to resign in the wake of the country's poor performance at the Olympics here but only if it would make a difference to the team's chances of doing well at the next Games in Sochi in 2014.


Mutko made the offer to resign when he landed at Sheremetyevo airport from Canada with Russia's team, who finished only 11th in the medals table with 15 medals, three of which were gold.

It was Russia's worst performance since they made their debut in the Winter Olympics at Lillehammer in 1994 following the break-up of the Soviet Union, leading to President Dmitry Medvedev calling for officials to resign or face being sacked.

Mutko said: "I will resign quietly, if specifically my resignation is the issue, although I don't know whether sport will gain anything from that.

"If I am the problem, I know what I must do and how.

"But it is neither one particular person, nor other people, that are to blame."

If Mutko resigns if could have serious implications for Russia's bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which along with England they are considered the favourites to win.

Mutko is a member of FIFA's ruling Executive Committee and considered the key figure in Russia's bid.

He said: "I don't know whether sports would score a victory because of that [resignation]."

But Mutko admitted that Russia had to be more competitive by the time of Sochi in four years.

He said: "There are 15 disciplines at the Olympics and unfortunately our team is competitive in just six of them.

"In the other disciplines we are not competitive.

"This was the toughest Olympics for decades."

But Mutko refused to condemn the Russian team's performance, instead admitting that it was the management of sport in the country that was at the root of the crisis.

He said: “We should all understand that it's our result for the moment, but that's not a failure.

"We had the best athletes from around the country.

"And of course we have a lot to change and to improve, and first of all the way sport is managed."

Contact the writer of this story at du[email protected]


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