MOSCOW: Alexander Zhukov appears to be carrying the can for Russia’s Olympic crisis year writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

President Vladimir Putin yesterday used an appearance at a ‘Russian sports power’ forum in Kovrov near Moscow for his office to confirm that Zhukov is being replaced as head of the national Olympic committee.

Zhukov was humiliatingly ordered back from Beijing, in the middle of leading an International Olympic Committee co-ordination visit concerning the 2022 Winter Games, ahead of sideways appointment as a leader of the Duma.

Zhukov was a Deputy Prime Minister from 2004 to 2011, a year after his election to the IOC.

Putin said: “I discussed this with him and he wants to concentrate on his work in the Duma. It is appopriate with one Olympic cycle having ended and another beginning. Alexander has done a lot for the sport, I hope he can do even more.”

Zhukov will step down officially in December with former Olympic swimming gold medallist Alexander Popov a possible successor. Popov was also an IOC member until this past summer as a representative of the IOC athletes’ commission.

Another leadership change is under way at the Russian athletics federation where former pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva is considered Putin’s favoured choice to become new president after the Olympic ban embarrassment.

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