Russia aims for 40 medals at Vancouver Olympics

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The Russian mission for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics will compete for 40 medals, said Vitaly Mutko, Minister of Sports, Tourism and Youth Policy, on Wednesday.

The Russian government has decided to award athletes who win medals at the Olympic arena with cash and vehicles, the minister told reporters after meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev.

The Russian mission consists of 179 people, he added, while pledging all measures necessary to avoid the recurrence of doping incidents.

Biathlon, skiing, figure skating, speed skating and snowboarding were widely seen as likely items in which the Russian athletes could claim gold medals.

Anton Sikharulidze, chairman of the Sport Committee at Russia's lower house of the parliament, said on Tuesday that Russia should finish top three in the medal table at the Vancouver Olympic Games.

Russia won 22 medals, including eight gold, to rank fourth in the medal table at the Turin Games.

The Vancouver Winter Olympics is slated for Feb. 12-28.

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