Evgeni Plushenko: “I am obliged to defend my athletes”
Interview with Evgeni Plushenko about judging and details of the disagreements and confrontation with Team Tutberidze.
source: tass.ru dd. 14th January 2021
Evgeni, the situation is out of the ordinary – fisticuffs in figure skating, this is something new.
Evgeni Plushenko: Well, the situation happened on January 13, in celebration of the old New Year, perhaps the person was in the bar, perhaps he had too much to drink. Maybe today his decision will change? In general, I treat this with irony.
Do you know him personally?
Evgeni Plushenko: No, I have no idea what kind of person he is – we haven’t met, haven’t communicated. Very few people know him. Maybe acting this way he wants to become more popular.
Are you ready to fight?
Evgeni Plushenko: I am ready, I like to fight, with pleasure. We can have a sparring in gloves, in full contact.
Have you ever got in a fight?
Evgeni Plushenko: I have such experience, this is a usual story for men. I can stand up for myself. It’d be even interesting. I’m just getting in shape.
What is your weight now?
Evgeni Plushenko: 75 kg.
We are waiting for your opponent’s weighting result.
Evgeni Plushenko: I would first test him for doping. You may need to call RUSADA. Only inadequate person can make such statements.
All this is probably fun. But I am personally offended that such things happen in figure skating – a wonderful sport. Are you offended?
Evgeni Plushenko: I read a lot, follow the comments – people have become quite aggressive, anger has appeared. Everyone has rapidly become experts in figure skating, in gliding, jumping, who is worse, who is better. All at once have become super-professionals and great coaches.
I live in my world – I built skating rinks, I do my businesses, I don’t bother anyone. But the situation is really heating up. Now I am returning from the Moscow Cup with my athlete. By the way, the athlete from Team Tutberidze Mark Lukin performed there. I really like him, a wonderful athlete, but today he skated worse than my skater Sornovskii. Yes, my athlete fell from a triple axel – he got -5 for that, and this’s right. Mark falls from a quadruple toe loop – they give him -3. Why isn’t he given the same mark as my athlete? Where is logic and justice?
This is how Zheleznyakov led us to a conversation about the problems in figure skating.
Evgeni Plushenko: Well, but it turns out that Tutberidze’s athletes may just skate and that’s already enough. I’m not complaining, but then where are we all going? I urge coaches, judges – especially them – to treat other athletes adequately, professionally and ethically. If a person fails a lot of elements, how does he manage to be 6 points ahead? I’m in shock. I don’t see such loyalty to my school, to my athletes. So, whatever they do, they will lose? This is a pressure specifically on my school – they are trying to knock us down without hesitation. Turns out that we have no legal protection?
I took two protocols today after the competition. I see that my athlete wasn’t perfect. I see his edge on the flip – the athlete is given a minus, but they don’t see the same edge in the case of Tutberidze’s athlete. And even if they see, they give pluses. Who will analyze it? It’s just that before everyone was silent. I’m not talking just about my guys. There are other athletes from CSKA, for example, and the same story with them. But they are just silent. That is how it should be? But there is a limit to everything – this is already happening openly.
Take the Russian Nationals in Chelyabinsk – for the Shcherbakova’s failed spin, which automatically goes in minus, there is a bonus of +3. And how much did they take for the edge on Trusova’s flip? We all see everything – we did not come from bobsleigh or luge sports, we have been doing this all our lives. So don’t deceive us. I call on coaches, judges, and the federation leadership to consider these things. If it’s a one-way street, let’s keep only Tutberidze’s school. If we are not needed, tell us – go skate for other countries. And they will take us. But this, as it seems to me, is also a wrong process. They found such a mechanism: “Be quiet, don’t say anything, I know myself.”
I am ready to lose with my athletes, if others are really head and shoulders above. But it is no need to create the situation artificially.
On the other hand, you have a fairly favorable situation – everyone has seen the beautiful cottages where your athletes have moved in, everyone can see what conditions you have on the ice.
Evgeni Plushenko: Yes, we have opportunities. But I earned this money myself, with my work, my long career – I skated four Olympics for a reason, and I did not take a penny from anyone, did not steal. Neither from the state nor private investors. We did everything with my wife – we built a skating rink. And I didn’t take any loans. Everything is built on honest money, on money earned by our own labor. There is envy, it’s true. But no one bothers you to skate four Olympics and be in the top – then you can build all this too. We work, we work hard. But when we are simply removed, we need to turn to the leadership.
And I will do it. I have an appointed meeting with the Minister of Sports, where I will discuss this issue. I will meet with representatives of the presidential administration in charge of sports. I will not speak for my school only. I am obliged to defend my athletes, we go to training and work for a reason.