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Russia reportedly spent at least 25 million dollars preparing its athletes for the 2018 Winter Olympics

Source: RBC
Kremlin Press Service

Russia spent at least 1.5 billion rubles ($25.5 million) on preparations for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, according to a new investigation by the magazine RBC, and now the International Olympic Committee has suspended Russia’s national team next year because of doping violations. Meduza summarizes RBC's findings.

RBC found that the costs for preparing Russia’s Olympic athletes falls primarily on two sources: the government and corporate sponsors. The state channeled funding through the Sports Ministry and through regional sports committees, financing the construction and renovation of athletic centers, training facilities, and stadiums throughout the country, while organizing local and national competitions. The government also allocates money to pay salaries to coaches and physicians and stipends to the athletes themselves.

A nongovernmental organization called the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), which manages all private donations to the country’s Olympic preparations, is directly responsible for forming and developing Russia’s national team. The organization hires foreign specialists and covers Russian athletes’ travel and living fees abroad. More than half the ROC’s budget consists of donations from Gazprom in 2014.

Spending by the government

RBC found that it’s difficult to say how much federal money has been allocated to Russia’s Olympic preparations, given that the Sports Ministry has no line item budget for spending on the 2018 Winter Games. Money used to prepare Russian athletes for South Korea is simply marked as “world-class sports” — a broad spending category that received between 46.7 and 80.7 billion rubles ($794.8 million and $1.4 billion) in allocations between 2014 and 2018. More than half this money is meant for stadium construction and infrastructure improvements ahead of Russia’s 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Without the soccer tournament spending, the Sports Ministry’s “world-class sports” allocations come to about 25 billion rubles, though it’s unclear how much of this went specifically to preparing for the Olympics.

Paradoxically (given the reason for its 2018 Olympic ban), Russia previously spent more than $1.2 million a year on anti-doping contributions to UNESCO and the World Anti-Doping Agency (before the Russian Anti-Doping Agency lost its accreditation in April 2016).

In November 2017, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev allocated 237.7 million rubles ($4 million) from the federal government’s Reserve Fund to finance the national team’s travel logistics, training abroad, and foreign currency needs in South Korea.

Spending by the Russian Olympic Committee

The ROC is responsible for the main expenses associated with preparing Russia’s national Olympic team. In October 2017, the organization’s first vice president stated that the ROC had already spent about 1 billion rubles ($17 million) on preparations for the 2018 Winter Games. The gas monopoly Gazprom is ROC’s single largest contributor, having donated $130 million for Russia’s preparations ahead of the Sochi Olympics and then another $130 million for the 2016 Summer Games and 2018 Winter Games.

According to the newspaper Vedomosti, the Russian Olympic Committee’s annual budget is roughly 2 billion rubles ($30 million), and data published on the Justice Ministry’s website indicates that the organization spent a little more than 500 million rubles ($8.5 million) on preparations for the Olympics in South Korea. The ROC also receives support from Aeroflot, Norilsk Nickel, and the sportswear brand “Za Sport.” Meanwhile, the Russian Olympic Committee’s sponsorship deals with MegaFon, Rosneft, the Russian Railways, Rostelecom, Sberbank, and the “Future” pension fund all expired in 2016 and were not renewed.

Following Russia’s disastrous 11th-place finish in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, an audit by the Accounts Chamber estimated that national preparations for the competition reached about 6.2 billion rubles ($105.5 million by today’s exchange rate).

Add it all up

Adding up the ROC’s expenditures, the money allocated to the Sports Ministry for athletes’ training costs abroad, and Moscow’s anti-doping payments in the last Olympic cycle, RBC estimates that Russia spent at least 1.5 billion rubles ($25.5 million) on preparations for next year’s Winter Games. The actual amount of expenditures, including the various federal funds used within the Sports Ministry, is even higher, the magazine argues.

Read RBC's full report here in Russian.

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