The coaching council of the Russian Gymnastics Federation voted Monday to remove Alexander Alexandrov as head coach of the women's team, Russian media announced. Pictured: Alexandrov and two-time Olympian Ksenia Afanasyeva
The coaching council of the Russian Gymnastics Federation voted Monday to remove Alexander Alexandrov as head coach of the women's team, Russian media announced.
Alexandrov told a news agency that the move was purely spiteful, and he claims federation vice president Andrei Rodionenko manipulated the vote.
"The decision was not the federation's, but came from Andrei and Valentina Rodionenko," he said. "They gathered coaches who they could control. And we didn't have any freedom for each person to sit and say what he thinks, because he will be punished. All the others were just sitting there silent."
The Russian federation has not yet released a statement on the reasons Alexandrov will be replaced or who will take his job.
The unexpected vote came nearly four years after Alexandrov initially returned to revitalize Russia's struggling women's program. Russia, the once dominant power in gymnastics, was shamefully shut out of the medals at the 2008 Olympic Games. Under Alexandrov's guidance, the team stunned the defending champion U.S. squad to take the gold at the 2010 World Championships in Rotterdam.
Aliya Mustafina — who had been debating quitting the sport until Alexandrov took her under his tutelage — became an outright star in Rotterdam, winning the individual all-around title and four other medals. An injury to Mustafina kept her out of the 2011 Worlds, but Russia took the team silver and won individual golds from Viktoria Komova (uneven bars) and Ksenia Afanasyeva (floor exercise).
Shut out in Beijing, the Russian women won six medals in London: one gold, two silvers and three bronzes. Mustafina won the most medals of any gymnast, with the gold on uneven bars, team silver, and bronzes in the all-around and floor exercise. Komova took second all-around, while Maria Paseka won the vault bronze.
Alexandrov has been one of the world's most prominent coaches for three decades. In 1983, his pupil Dmitry Bilozerchev took the gymnastics world by storm, becoming the world champion at 16. After coaching the Soviet women from 1988-1992, Alexandrov moved to Texas where he had been working at various clubs before returning to Russia four years ago.
To date, Alexandrov is the only personal coach to to guide both male and female gymnasts to world all-around titles. He said he is unsure if he will stay in Russia to coach Mustafina, who has indicated she wants to continue competing.
"I do not know whether or not I will stay to coach Aliya," he said. "We will have to see. They told me that now I'm her personal trainer, and the head coach will be different."