Plushenko Granted Waiver to Compete in European Championships

Rules requirements slide off the Teflon champion

After winning his ninth National title at Russian Nationals last month, it appeared that Evgeni Plushenko might be unable to compete at the European Championships or World Championships unless he could find a way to quickly satisfy the TES point qualification requirements for ISU championships.

Per ISU rules and Communication 1619, to compete in an ISU Championship this season a skater must satisfy the following requirements:

5. Entries for ISU Championships:

To be entered into and participate in the Championships/Qualifying Round of a Senior ISU Championships a Competitor must have reached in an ISU recognized International Competition during the ongoing or immediately preceding season the minimum Total Technical Scores (points).

The minimum Total Technical Scores for the ISU Championships 2011are:

Men                   SP 20,0      FS 35,0
Ladies              SP 15,0       FS 25,0
Pair Skating     SP 17,0      FS 30,0

While these point totals would be easy for Plushenko to meet, he has not competed at an ISU recognized international competition either this season or last, though he did compete at the 2010 Japan Open, a team competition in which he participated as an ineligible person.

With few viable opportunities to qualify under the rules in the next few weeks, the Russian Skating Federation appealed to the ISU Council to throw away the rulebook and let Plushenko compete anyway.  On 3 January 2011 the ISU released the following statement:

Evgeny Plushenko to compete at ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2012

03 January 2012

The ISU received a specific request from the Figure Skating Federation of Russia pointing out that the skater Evgeny Plushenko was unable, for different reasons, to obtain the required minimum score in an International Competition during the ongoing and past season. Based on this request and also noting that Evgeny Plushenko has recently returned to competitive skating by winning the Russian National Championships at the end of December 2011, the ISU Council exceptionally agreed to accept the entry of Evgeny Plushenko into the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2012 in Sheffield/Great Britain. This exceptional decision is valid for the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2012 only.

This waiver is only for the European Championships, and he must still qualify for the World Championships in March.  There are several Senior International Competitions in February and March where he could qualify; however, that will likely prove unnecessary.  The European Championships are an ISU recognized international competition, and the scores there can count towards qualification for the World Championships, under Article 38 and Rule 107.  So by turning a blind eye to the requirements for the European Championships the ISU kills two birds with one stone.

Given the benefit to the ISU of having Plushenko compete at Europeans and Worlds, and the debt the ISU owes the Russian Skating Federation for bailing the ISU out at Worlds earlier this year, could any other outcome have been expected?

Or to paraphrase the line from the Mexican banditos in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Rules?  Rules?  We don't need to follow no stink'n rules.

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Copyright 2012 by George S. Rossano