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?
at 10:34 PM