By Duncan Mackay

Gazprom_with_skaterMay 22 - The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) have signed a massive $130 million (£80 million) contract with energy giants Gazprom to help its athletes prepare for Sochi 2014, where they have been set the target of finishing top of the medals table, it has been announced.

Alexander Zhukov, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister who is also the President of the ROC, said that the money would be invested in its efforts to help Russia recover from their disastrous performance at last year's Winter Olympics in Vancouver where they finished 11th in the overall medals table with just three golds.

"The money is allocated for special purpose programmes as a supplement to other financial means provided by the state via the Sports Ministry and the Russian sports training centre," said Zhukov.

The deal with Gazprom, Russia's biggest company and the largest extractor of natural gas in the world, will help fund the country's preparations for Sochi which have been given another boost after the ROC signed a $5 million (£3 million) five-year contract with Canada's Allinger Consulting Inc.

They helped Canada's athletes prepare for Vancouver where they topped the medals table with a total of 26 medals, 14 of them gold.

Cathy_Priestner-Allinger_head_and_shouldersAllinger Consulting was founded by Cathy Priestner-Allinger (pictured), the 1976 Olympic 500 metres speed skating silver medallist, who was the architect of Canada's Own the Podium blueprint for Vancouver 2010, which received $110 million (£68 million) worth of funding.

She works with her husband Todd Allinger, who also played a leading role in Own the Podium, heading up a unit devoted to finding that extra edge that helped Canadians perform so well at Vancouver.

Prior to this, she was the managing director of Games Operations for Turin 2006 having been the first female managing director of sport for the Salt Lake 2002 Games.

Under the contract, Allinger Consulting Inc will develop a step-by-step training programme for Russia's team leading up to Sochi 2014 and beyond.

The strategy will be individually tailored to each athlete. and included latest state-of-the-art training techniques and equipment.

They also provide advice on nutrition and sports medicine.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
August 2010: Russia launches new strategy to ensure they remain global sporting powerhouse
June 2010: Report finds Russian preparations for Vancouver compromised by corruption
May 2010: Russia must finish top in Sochi warns new Olympic chief
April 2010: More pressure on Mutko to resign after Russian Parliament slams Vancouver display
March 2010: Medvedev threatens Russian sports officials with criminal charges over Vancouver