Auditor: Sports Minister Spent $4,500 on Vancouver Breakfasts

VedomostiVitaly Mutko, the sports, tourism and youth policy minister. The Audit Chamber said he spent about $4,500 on breakfasts and $32,400 on hotel expenses at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Large portions of those bills are unaccounted for.

Each of the 15 medals that Russia won at the Vancouver Winter Olympics cost the country a staggering 388 million rubles ($12.4 million), the Audit Chamber said in a report that criticized the government's training program as ineffective and corrupt.

A total of 5.8 billion rubles ($186.4 million) was spent on the February games, said the 71-page report on the management of state funds allocated for preparations for the 2010 games that was published on the watchdog's web site late last week.

An example of misspending cited in the report was the Vancouver hotel bill for Sports, Tourism and Youth Politics Minister Vitaly Mutko, which came to 34,500 Canadian dollars ($32,400) for 20 nights.

The report said the room cost 1,499 Canadian dollars ($1,408) per night, which means that Mutko's stay should have cost 29,980 Canadian dollars. The report does not explain why the actual bill was 4,500 Canadian dollars higher.

In any case, government regulations prohibit paying more than $130 per night for hotel rooms for state officials.

During his 20-day stay, Mutko also had 97 breakfasts that cost another 4,800 Canadian dollars ($4,500), the report said. That amounts to about five breakfasts per day.

The Audit Chamber report also accused sports officials of embezzling money allocated for athletes and sports equipment, adding extra people to the Olympic delegation at the state's expense, hiring incompetent coaches and selling overpriced tickets to fans.

But the report did not say how much money went missing, and said no officials had been identified who could be charged with wrongdoing.

“There is no single body in Russia responsible for the training and participation of Russian teams in the Olympic Games … that can be held responsible,” the report said.

The Audit Chamber will forward the results of its inquiry to the Investigative Committee and the Interior Ministry, the report said. It was unclear whether any officials involved with the Olympics would face charges.

Mutko denied accusations of misspending Friday, calling them “speculation” and “total rubbish,” Interfax reported. He said he did not choose his hotel room but did not explain who had selected it.

Russia won only three gold medals at the games, its worst-ever performance. It topped the medals box at the Paralympics, however, with 38 medals, including 12 golds. Russia spent 378 million rubles ($12.1 million) for the Paralympics, meaning that each medal cost 10 million rubles ($321,500), the Audit Chamber said.

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