Wednesday, November 24

Why the Evgeny Plushenko Situation Gives Me a Headache



So Evgeny Plushenko and his Olympic eligibility status are back in the news. How many times is this since the World Championships? I'm honestly getting a little fed up with the whole situation, and I'll explain why after the jump.

First things first before I get some accusatory hate mail. I have nothing wrong with Russian skaters. I've always liked Plushenko, and I think it's really admirable that he came back so strong in 2010 after being out of competition for three and a half years. He was on his first World Championship podium when I was 11 years old-- that says enough in itself that he is still very well near the best male skater in the world.

However, here's my huge issue. Evgeny withdrew from the World Championships due to injury, and instead participated in exhibition shows during that time WITHOUT permission. We remember that Joannie Rochette withdrew from the World Championships as well due to personal matters, and was almost not allowed to skate in a show that took place the weekend before Worlds until the last minute, when her Federation (Skate Canada), allowed a sanction to Thin Ice.

To make matters even worse, Plushenko was given the option to file a petition over the ruling of him being ineligible up to three weeks after the initial announcement. Did he? No. And that alone drives me absolutely crazy. Universal Sports mentions in this blog from June that there might have been some confusion over paperwork-- I haven't read far enough into the situation since to know if that means the initial needing of a sanction during the World Championships, or if it refers to the Federation attempting to protest the ban. Either way, I know Evgeny and plenty of other people in his camp have enough knowledge of the English language to be able to read this communication from the ISU (not to mention that it was probably translated into Russian 5,000 times in the few minutes after it was posted). If the "confusion" came over what paperwork the Federation had to fill out in order for Evgeny to skate in the exhibition, then why didn't he just explain that in the appeal period? It doesn't make any sense that he would just ignore it, as if it were going to disappear on its own.

The Universal Sports blog I linked asks if Evgeny thought he was above the rules, and I have to ask why there would be any doubt of him thinking that. Plushenko had his chance to attempt to solve the problem and didn't take advantage, and now even months later he might still be able to have his eligible status reinstated. He says he really wants to compete in Sochi in 2014, and I'm fully aware that the next Olympics are in Russia and he would most certainly be one of the most focused-on athletes of the entire Games, if not the most, but once again-- rules are rules.

No need to tell me all about his illustrious achievements throughout his career (which, yes, I can name that he has three Olympic medals, three World Championships, and six European titles off the top of my head). However, his record shouldn't play into whether they can be broken or not. Rochette was willing to withdraw from her show if she didn't get proper authorization, and every other skater knows what is at risk when they put themselves in a situation like this one.

Are we saying that because Evgeny Plushenko took more than a minute to prepare himself after his name has been called to the ice, that the ISU shouldn't start his music because he is Evgeny Plushenko? Are we saying that if he does four combinations or repeats more than two different types of triples in a free skate that we should just ignore the mistake and give him full credit for everything because he is Evgeny Plushenko?

Extending the rules and showing that everything will be okay in the end for one skater means that the ISU would have to do exactly the same with every other instance. Why start that now?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that there are some issues between Plushenko and the Russian Skating Fed which contributed to his ineligibility in the first place and that he didn't appeal because those issues had yet to be resolved. He apparently met with the Russian feds at CoR and started to work things out, which would be why it's back in the news now? IDK, but that's what it sounded like in the articles I read. I've heard bad things about the head of the Russian fed, so I hope it gets sorted out.

It would seem ludicrous to me to permanently ban any skater from amateur competition for something as simple as 'skating without permission', though.

Tony said...

Back in the days when there were professional competitions taking up plenty of the fall and winter schedule, it was really clear: you compete in one of those, and you are no longer eligible. The ISU did create two reinstatement years (before the 1994 Olympics and before the 1995/1996 season), and skaters like Brian Boitano, Viktor Petrenko, Torvill/Dean, Katarina Witt, Midori Ito, and Josee Chouinard took advantage.

Now, we don't have such "clear" cases, but rules are still rules-- like I said. If there was some confusion with the Federation, Evgeny had three full weeks to tell the ISU, "You know what, my Federation told me one story and now you are telling me a different story. I am sorry but I thought I was not breaking any rules." But he said NOTHING.

Why?

Maria said...

But Plushenko broke the rules and he could not overturn the decision of the ISU. Mishin said in a 100 interviews that they did not want to intensify arguing with ISU.

By the rules of the ISU, Plushenko has the right, at any time, request the return of his "amateur" status - so, I do not see what the problem is?

Tony said...

True. I guess I just don't like hearing it being brought up again. I also think maybe I'm getting rubbed the wrong way by people that believe that the particular rules of the subject do not have to apply to certain individuals.

Sorry, this post was just to rant. I went to my Google mail, where I have all news about figure skating sent to me, and there were a few more mentions of this situation.

Maria said...

You have here all russian news(and english translation) about Plushenko's suspension:
http://evgeni-plushenko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=205

Tony said...

Thanks, I'll definitely bookmark it.

Maria said...

Also, you have here Plushenko's letter to Russian Skating Federation published over media. Like "anonymous said, he and the Federation were at "war", because he criticized the bureaucrats from the Federation after returning from the Olympics. As revenge, they refused to submit his application to ISU, while he does not "apologize" ... and it was a letter:

http://evgeni-plushenko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=6&start=570#p41991

Anonymous said...

By the rules of the ISU, Plushenko has the right, at any time, request the return of his "amateur" status - so, I do not see what the problem is?
===
No problem. He really has such a right. His Federation has to ask the ISU to renew his status.

Lisa said...

Even if Plushenko does get reinstated, I don't see much of a point. He will be about 31 by the time Sochi comes around, and he's had various muscle issues already. It's not impossible that he would make it to Sochi and maybe even medal, but the odds really aren't great.

Tony said...

I don't necessarily agree there. Very few people thought his 2010 comeback was going to happen after some of his struggles with injury in the three-year break that he had, and he very nearly won the gold medal again.

Other skaters have stuck around to compete when they were right around 30, just they skated competitively every year leading up to that point. It'll be tough, but I'm sure (if he's allowed) that he will be in fine shape in 2014.

Anonymous said...

to Lisa:
--------

To him personally is to decide that, not to anyone else.

Anonymous said...

This whole situation is quite confusing...

But as I understand it (and I may very well be mistaken), to appeal, wouldn't Plushenko basically have had to say that the Russian skating federation landed him in the soup? However diplomatically worded, that would have been the gist of it - and how diplomatic would that be, really?

Perhaps he, and perhaps more so his team, since being overly diplomatic is scarcely his strong suit, thought it would be a better option to appeal, since there was such an alternative? Better simply to agree that he was in error, than to incur the abiding enmity of his own skating federation? He's quite obviously eating humble pie at this very moment - I certainly hope this appeases them.

As for other people making a big song and dance about it... well, is it really fair to lay that as well at Plushenko's door?

LRK

Anonymous said...

Sigh... I meant that they thought it better to "request reinstatement" not appeal, as I wrote - I hope my comment was not overly confusing because of it.

LRK

Anonymous said...

If Russia has two spots at the 2014 winter olympics, or three, I am sure Plushenko could land a spot! But maybe by that time and for the betterment of the whole Russian mens programs future he will not be as good as future possibilies like Gachinsky or Dmitriev or Zhan Bush or Gordei Gorshkov or Artem Grigoriev someone else!!