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MOSCOW, April 7. /TASS/. A draft law banning Russian athletes from competing in two consecutive Olympic Games and submitted with lawmakers earlier in the day is inappropriate and incomprehensible, Russia’s dual Olympic Champion in figure skating Evgeni Plushenko told TASS on Tuesday.
"How can an athlete, who is strong and has a desire and the will for the victory, be deprived of the right of taking part in the Olympics?" Plushenko said. "It does not matter whether an athlete at the issue is past his sports prime age, injured or young."
Although retired, Plushenko stunned media last summer by announcing that he intended to compete for another title at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea’s PyeongChang, which may turn into his 5th career Olympics.
"I believe that such legislative initiatives are beyond comprehension and inappropriate," the Russian figure skating star said. "We have plenty of qualified sports officials and we have a very professional sports minister. I believe it must be up to them to decide on such issues."
The bill to amend the Law on the Physical Culture and Sport in the Russian Federation was initiated by Yegor Anisimov, a lawmaker from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), and submitted with the lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, earlier in the day.
"The bill proposes banning athletes from participating in the Olympic Games for more than two consecutive times," the State Duma website said. "It enables young and not less talented athletes to take part in the international compatitions of such high level."
The titled 32-year-old Russian figure skater performed in four Olympics throughout his career, winning his first Olympic gold at the 2006 Winter Games in Italy’s Turin and the second in February last year at Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Plushenko, who also brought Russia silver medals both at the 2002 Olympics in US Salt Lake City and at the 2010 Olympics in Canada’s Vancouver and won seven European champion titles, struggled with back injuries over the two skating seasons prior to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but kept insisting that he would be able to perform well on his home ice.
He partly kept his promise winning the gold in team’s competition in Sochi, but his withdrawal from the men’s individuals saw him not only going to Israel last March for the surgery on his back, but drew mass criticism across Russia.
During a warm-up before the individuals’ performance, Plushenko attempted a triple axel jump, but landed uncomfortably aggravating his old injury and breaking a screw that supported an artificial intervertebral disk in his back.
Eventually, the Russian figure skating star withdrew from the competition and later announced that he had decided to quit sports for good.