Russians hire former USOC executive to fix their Olympic program
Thursday, April 8, 2010
The worst performance in Winter Games history in February for Russia infuriated the nation's president and led to the resignations or firings of a host of leading Olympic officials.
Now, as the Russian Olympic Committee attempts to rebound in time for the next Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, it has reached out to a once-bitter sports rival, asking a former U.S. Olympic Committee executive to help lead the turnaround.
Steve Roush, who helped produce a record-setting 110-medal performance for the United States at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing as the USOC's Chief of Sports Performance, will try to figure out what has gone wrong for the Russian sports program. Russia finished 11th in the gold-medal count and sixth in the overall medal table in Vancouver.
Russian officials say they want to learn from Team USA's recent success.
"We have found in ourselves courage to recognize that many Russian technologies lose now before the western," said Rostislav Murzagulov, counselor of the president of the Russian Olympic Committee, in an e-mail. "We could continue endless searching for a special Russian way. But it also was possible to take advantage of experience of the person [that] knows how to win 110 medals on Olympics. We have chosen the last."
Roush will lead the internal review of Russia's winter sports program through his position as a senior consultant with the international sports consulting company TSE Consulting. The move will be formally announced during a press conference next week in Moscow, Roush said.
The development is a somewhat jarring one for the USOC as it watches Roush take expertise honed during his eight-year tenure with the organization to various Olympic committees around the world. In January, the Brazilian Olympic Committee also hired Roush and TSE Consulting to help the Brazilian team achieve success at the 2012 Summer Games in London and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Roush and TSE are also under contract with the Turkish and Saudi Arabian governments to advise on their sports programs.
Roush departed the USOC early last year after a controversy over his handling of a disciplinary issue in Beijing in 2008 and amid a shakeup at the top of the USOC's hierarchy.
Shortly after Roush left, TSE Consulting announced the creation of a new division on sports performance under Roush's direction.
Roush, whom some blamed for reacting too harshly when U.S. cyclists walked off a plane in Beijing wearing gas masks, was credited with helping the U.S. Olympic team achieve the record medal tally at the Beijing Olympics and win the overall Winter Games medal count for the first time in Vancouver.
Roush said his major goal by early this summer will be "exposing [Russia] to the best practices used by some of the more successful countries."
"I don't think it's any secret that the leadership of the government, as well as the Russian Olympic Committee, was disappointed with the Vancouver results," Roush said by phone from Brazil. "With them being the next host of the Winter Games, they are looking to adjust their system to ensure they have a much more successful performance in 2014 in Sochi."
Another former USOC sports performance official Michelle Dusserre-Farrell, a 1984 Olympic silver medalist in gymnastics, has been hired to work under Roush at TSE Consulting. Former USA Swimming President Dale Neuburger works in a different division of the company, which has offices in the United States but is based in Lausanne, Switzerland.
"This new project presents a major challenge, but with the world's leading experts on the case, we are fully equipped to provide a full review that will enable future success for the Russian Olympic Committee," said Lars Haue-Pedersen, managing director of TSE Consulting in a statement.