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Auditor: Russia wasted millions on Vancouver Games

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's flop at the Vancouver Winter Olympics followed widespread misspending by sports officials and a dysfunctional bureaucracy, government auditors said.

The audit puts Russia's total spending for the games, including preparations, at $186 million. It cited dozens of examples of money being wasted, saying the figure ran into millions of dollars.

Russia, a traditional sports powerhouse, won only three gold and 15 total medals in Vancouver, putting the investment cost of each medal at $12.4 million. Russia spent five times less in Turin in 2006, when it won eight golds.

The daily Vedomosti said Monday the findings would raise pressure on Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko to resign.

According to the audit, Mutko charged 97 breakfasts to the Russian taxpayer during his 20-day stay in Vancouver. Why he would need five breakfasts per day — costing $4,500 in total — went unexplained.

Mutko could not be reached for comment, but has rejected the audit's findings in comments carried by the Russian media.

Russia is hosting the next Winter Olympics in 2014 in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The Vancouver figure did not include $19 million spent on promoting the Sochi Games, nor $12 million on the Paralympics.

President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the audit after the Vancouver results humiliated the country and cost many top sports officials their jobs.

Some of the spending transgressions uncovered by the 71-page report occurred during the two-week competition in Canada.

In one case, several individuals outside the official Olympic delegation, including Mutko's wife and the girlfriend of figure skater Evgeni Plushenko, traveled to Vancouver on the state's expense.

But the Vancouver misspending — which also included $8,000 in parking fees — paled in comparison to the four-year preparation period back home, the report said.

The series of competitions to prepare the athletes for the Olympics during the four-year run-up was "ineffective, incomplete, a year-in-year-out source of income for separate individuals and organizations, of a corrupt nature and on the whole requires comprehensive overhauls," it said.

Graft also permeated the purchase of basic equipment for competition and training, the report said.

In another example, a state-controlled company tasked with acquiring bobsleds, uniforms and other equipment advised the sports ministry of four suitable supply firms, the report said. The ministry replied that four was excessive, and recommended a single firm supply everything.

The order was followed but the single firm outsourced the order to the four firms originally suggested, taking its cut. That violation, in April 2009, cost the state budget $122,000, and the audit cites dozens of other similar cases.