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Russian Olympic Coach Named Sports Chief - 2002-04-12

The man who coached Russia to a bronze medal at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, Vyacheslav Fetisov, has agreed to become his nation's sports chief.

Gennady Shvets, a spokesman for Russia's National Olympic Committee, said Fetisov had given his consent to be appointed head of the Russian State Sports Committee, the top government agency overseeing sports. A government decision to appoint Fetisov is expected soon.

The 43-year-old Fetisov is a former assistant coach for the North American National Hockey League's New Jersey Devils. He would replace Pavel Rozhkov, who has been heavily criticized for failing to defend Russian athletes at the Winter Olympics.

The ITAR-Tass news agency reported that Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matviyenko also confirmed Friday that Fetisov might become one of the nation's top officials, but added that the decision to appoint him had not yet been made.

Some Russian media claimed earlier that Fetisov might actually take charge of the National Olympic Committee. The National Olympic Committee competes with the State Sports Committee for control over Russian national sports.

As an ice hockey player, Fetisov helped the former Soviet Union win two Olympic titles and six world championships. He was considered by many to be the best defenseman in the world in the 1980s. He joined the NHL's New Jersey Devils in 1989 after barriers to professional hockey fell in the Soviet Union, and helped the Detroit Red Wings win the Stanley Cup in 1997 and 1998.