SOCHI, February 14 (R-Sport) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday had nothing but praise for Evgeny Plushenko despite the figure skating star's withdrawal from the Sochi Olympics a day earlier.
Plushenko aggravated a back injury in the warm-up before he was due to perform in the individual event Thursday and just four days after helping his country to gold in the new team event.
"He performed in the team event and showed his best result," Putin said. "He really does have a big problem with his health. He has had several operations."
There has been a tide of critcism inside Russia that the country's Olympic selectors, knowing that Plushenko had issues with his back, selected the 31-year-old over 18-year-old Maxim Kovtun.
Had Plushenko pulled out immediately after the team event on Sunday, Russia would have been able to call in Kovtun as a replacement. But Plushenko insisted he was OK and by competition time it was too late to make a substitution, leaving the host nation without a representative in the men's singles.