The following is a letter from members of the Russian National Ski Team to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. Following a disappointing Olympics, Medvedev called for the resignation of all the heads of Russian Winter Olympic sports. This letter was originally published on skisport.ru.
Respected Dmitri Anatolyevich Medvedev,
The Russian National Ski Team is asking you for help. It has become a necessity that we change the way our Ski Federation runs. Right now, people are looking for whom to blame for our poor performance at the Olympic Games, but simply switching some people from their posts with others will do nothing. This is not the first time we have tried this. New people have come, but they are unable to change anything. The system cannot be changed by one if everybody else is working with the old one- that is working in circles. There can only be an effect if the entire system is changed. We need specialists who know and love our sport. We want to see people put in place who understand the modern tendencies of cross country skiing who are capable of resolving actual problems.
What more can we say about the current leadership of the team, if the president of the Federation, A. Loginov, doesn’t even consider our athletes people? He has publicly called athletes “wasted material,” “a contingent” with whom “I must work”! And he was the one who chose the Olympic team, while the athletes themselves have no say in picking the Federation’s leadership. In the last few years, we have gathered a mass of problems that interfere with our successful performances at international events. We have very poor medical support for our team. We have told this to our Federation man times, yet nobody tried to change it for the Olympic season. The consequences of that were apparent. We are not asking for some sort of complex pharmacological program, but right now our specialists cannot even cure us of a cold nor prevent us from getting colds, from which we suffer every season. With reference to the bad-conscience work of the Federation’s and in part of head coach Y.A. Charkovskovo, we do not receive quality food, lodging or transport during our training or racing. For example, to save money, the head coach often forces us on twelve hour bus rides in between races when we could fly the distance in an hour. You can imagine what condition we are in for the competitions.
Our wax and service-men receive meagre wages. In cross country skiing these very people play a key role, but they are compensated so poorly that the work with empty enthusiasm.
In the contract between the Federation and the athletes no monthly compensation is stated. Instead, compensation is decided by the Federation. The average wage amounts to fifteen thousand rubles (~$500) per month.
The leadership of the Federation is interested in our results only insofar as they can keep their jobs. They don’t even consider the development of cross-country skiing. When we, the athletes and coaches, start to talk about modernization and about the changes we can make to the direction of skiing, the Federation ignores us. Furthermore, the Federation tells us to mind our own business. All decisions are made by the head coach and the team manager Charkovsky. He, as well as Mr. Loginov, constantly complain about the lack of resources and the impossibility of solving problems which they themselves are paid to solve. Instead of working for us, they work to solve their own financial problems.
The coaches and doctors who are guilty of giving their athletes banned substances are never punished and continue to work with the team. For this reason, the problem of doping in our sport is left prevalent.
All of these problems, as well as the unprofessionalism of the organization’s preparation for the Olympic Games in Vancouver, which took away any possibility of winning medals, has made it necessary to write you this letter. We officially inform you that the leadership of our Federation is incompetent in our current sport.
We ask for your help in reforming the way our Federation works so that the cross-country ski team will have a chance of a satisfactory performance at the Olympics in Sochi.