Russia's deputy sports minister quits

MOSCOW Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:42pm EDT

Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko speaks with journalists during Russian national team arrival at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow March 2, 2010, after taking part in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov

Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko speaks with journalists during Russian national team arrival at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow March 2, 2010, after taking part in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

Credit: Reuters/Denis Sinyakov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Gennady Alyoshin has quit as Russia's deputy sports minister, the ministry said on Thursday.

Alyoshin, responsible for elite and recreational sports, became the second high-ranking official to quit after Russia's dismal showing at last month's Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Leonid Tyagachyov resigned as president of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) on March 3, two days after President Dmitry Medvedev ordered top sports officials to quit or be fired. The ROC's executive board will meet next week to discuss Tyagachyov's successor.

Russia, a traditional winter sports superpower, had its worst showing in Olympic competition, winning 15 medals but only three gold.

The future of long-serving Russian figure skating chief Valentin Piseyev was also thrown into doubt on Thursday when the sport's governing body voted to hold elections in June.

In Vancouver, Russia finished out of the medals in the Olympic pairs competition for the first time since 1964. Former men's champion Yevgeny Plushenko was also highly critical of Piseyev for his lack of support, after finishing second behind American Evan Lysacek.

Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, however, said he would stay in his job and vowed to improve Russia's fortunes in 2014 when the country hosts the next Winter Olympics in Sochi.

(Reporting by Gennady Fyodorov; Editing by Clare Fallon)