Russia says no final decision on ice skater Plushenko
In this file photo, Russia's Yevgeny Plushenko performs during the exhibition gala at the 2010 European Figure Skating Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, on January 24, 2010
The 2006 Olympic champion Plushenko, 31, said after coming a surprise second behind Maxim Kovtun, 18, at the Russian national championships he would only be competing at the team event in Sochi and let someone else represent Russia in the individual.
But Russia's skating bosses appeared taken aback by his announcement, with federation general director Valentin Piseyev saying Plushenko had spoken "out of emotion".
"The final decision on who will be the main representative and who will be the reserve will be taken after the European championships" in Budapest in January, he was quoted as saying by the R-Sport news agency.
He said Plushenko's comments were not logical as the rules state the same sportsman should represent his country both in the team competition -- which comes first -- and then the individual. Only an injury can allow a replacement.
"Not all the sportsmen know the precise rules," said Piseyev.
"Yes, Plushenko wants to compete in the Olympics... Everything will depend on his health," he added.
His comments indicate Plushenko risks facing the massive disappointment of possibly not skating at the Olympics at all if Kovtun is chosen as its male individual representative.
Plushenko is one of the most famous sportsmen in any discipline in Russia and was set to be an icon of the Olympics. However the federation had made it clear that it, and not the skaters, will take the decisions.
Plushenko led Kovtun easily after the short programme, staged at the Iceberg ice palace in Sochi, which will host the Olympic skating events. But a disappointing free skate handed the title to the young pretender.
Plushenko did not manage to produce his famous quadruple toe-loop, landing only a triple. Kovtun however managed the quadruple toe as well as a quadruple Salchow.
In summer, the three-time world and seven-time European champion underwent back surgery in a bid to make a comeback in time for the Olympics on home soil.
The team event, which will be contested in Sochi for the first time, will involve 10 nations and feature a male and female singles skater as well as pairs and ice dance couples.