Killy quits IOC amid Putin links criticism

Paris: French ski legend Jean-Claude Killy on Friday resigned from the International Olympic Committee, insisting he had no regrets about his close ties to Russia`s President Vladimir Putin.

The winner of three gold medals at the 1968 Grenoble Winter Olympics told L`Equipe magazine his age was the main reason for standing down.

But he has been criticised for a close relationship with Putin built up while he was a key figure in the Sotchi Winter Olympics preparations.

"I am 70, I have to move on," Killy, a member of the IOC executive committee since 1995, was quoted as saying by L`Equipe`s website.

"I am stopping because, with the Sotchi Winter Games, when you have done a Russian campaign like I have for seven years, it is difficult at my age to find something as rich, as exciting.

"I am stopping because my Olympic career started at the Innsbruck Games, 50 years ago."

Killy was the head of the IOC`s coordination committee for the Sotchi Winter Olympics, an event seen as boosting the prestige of Russia`s president.

The French official has been criticised for his close relationsship with Putin, who has been in the international spotlight over his country`s annexation of Crimea.

"My image has taken a blow -- it`s nothing," Killy commented.

"I spent seven years working directly with the head of state of a country of 145 million people.

"I must be one of the people who knows him the best. It is my conviction that Putin is a good man."

Killy also praised the Sotchi Games, calling the event "spectacular" and hailing it as "a mirror to the new Russia".