MOSCOW, July 19 (R-Sport/RIA Novosti) – Critics of Russia's extraordinary success at this month's World University Games need help with their sex lives, President Vladimir Putin suggested Friday, after the country’s record-breaking haul of medals drew skepticism earlier this month.
Known for his lack of patience with dissent and liberal use of salty language in condemning critics, Putin took a shot at those who complained the country deployed too many Olympic-level athletes in a competition meant to be restricted to students during the July 6-17 event in Kazan.
"I’d like to advise them to take up sport themselves, and if they have any health issues to go see a doctor," Putin said at a meeting with athletes who had competed in the games.
"At the end of the day, maybe they should try some Viagra and then life would get better, would reveal some of its vivid and beautiful sides, and they would see the future," he quipped.
Through 12 days of competition at the 2013 Universiade, which ended Wednesday in the city of Kazan, a Russian delegation stocked with some of the country’s top athletes steamrolled its way to a record 292 medals, including 155 gold, another record. (The previous gold medal record of 75 was set by China at the 2011 Games in Shenzhen.)
Determined to exert its athletic might on home turf, Russia deployed 673 athletes, the most in the 162-nation field, who won at least one medal in 25 of this year’s record 27 sports.
Putin, 60, has cultivated his reputation as a fit and adventurous sports fan. In addition to widely publicized feats of physical skill, like diving and horseback riding (shirtless), he holds a black belt in judo and reportedly swims every morning before work. He has played a central role in attracting major international sporting events to Russia – including not only the University Games but the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and the 2018 football World Cup, in which the reputational stakes for Russia will be much higher.
Periodic bursts of gritty language when referring to critics have been a hallmark of Putin's tenure. Early in his first presidency, he famously vowed to “wipe out” terrorists even in the toilet. In 2002, he suggested that anyone who was disparaging about Russia's military campaign in Chechnya should be circumcised, while more recently he asked journalists to keep their "snotty noses" out of his private life.