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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Smirnov Urges Calm Over Games

Despite the storm and emotion of the Olympic Games, veteran sports official Vitaly Smirnov on Monday stood firmly behind IOC chief Jacques Rogge and Russian Olympic Committee head Leonid Tyagachyov.

Smirnov, the former president of the Russian Olympic Committee and current vice president of the International Olympics Committee, doled out kind words and pointed criticism in his first news conference since his return from the United States.

Both Rogge and Tyagachyov had come under harsh criticism after the recent Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, which provoked cries of foul in Russia over the perceived misjudging of Russian athletes.

President Vladimir Putin called the games "a flop" because of Rogge's inexperience and criticized Russian Olympic officials for not being strident enough in their support of Russian athletes.

Russia won six gold medals, the fourth-best total in Salt Lake City, but the worst performance from a Russian team since it first took part in the Games in 1956.

Smirnov was reluctant to put the blame for Russia's poor showing on Rogge as Putin had. He had disagreed with the decision to hand an extra gold medal in the figure skating competition but said the Games were well-organized and IOC president Rogge was a "worthy president," although not "immune from mistakes."

Rogge is expected to attend the traditional Olympic Ball in the Kremlin early next month in his first visit to Russia since he was elected president in Moscow last July.

"We should calm down and make a thorough analysis of what has happened. Every Olympics has its own dramatic events. There were unexpected victories and losses, which had not been planned," Smirnov said.

Russia, he said, could only win a certain amount of medals because it is strong in only a few events -- cross-country skiiing, figure skating, men's hockey and biathlon. Other events such as speed skating, bobsled and luge require training facilities that Russia doesn't have at the moment, he said.

The Russian Olympic Committee had been criticized for its poor public relations and lack of expertise in anti-doping matters at this Olympics.

Smirnov refused to directly criticize Tyagachyov, who took over from him as president of the Russian Olympic Committee last year.

"He has been in the job six months, and the accusations against him are unfair," Smirnov said.

He added, however, that he found it "unpleasant" that he had not been consulted more widely since his departure.

He said he had warned the Russian committee that Russia's only laboratory capable of testing samples for doping to an Olympic level was in danger of losing its accreditation with the IOC but nothing had been done since his departure.