December 27 - Russian skating officials are refusing to rule out the prospect of Evgeni Plushenko competing in the men's singles at Sochi 2014 and warned him that he cannot take part in just the team event, as he claimed he wanted too.
The 31-year-old from St Petersburg, the Turin 2006 Olympic champion and a silver medallist at Salt Lake City 2002 and Vancouver 2010, announced after being beaten by 18-year-old Maxim Kovtun at the Russian Championships in Sochi on Wednesday (December 25) that it was time "cede my spot in the men's competition to a young athlete".
But Russian Skating Federation director general Valentin Piseyev claimed that they would not rule Plushenko out of Sochi 2014.
"The final decision on who will be the main representative and who will be the reserve will be taken after the European Championships," he told Russian news agency R-Sport.
Plushenko claimed he would not compete at the Championships, due to take place in Budapest between January 13 and 19, but Piseyev dismissed his announcement as being "made out of emotion" following the disappointment of his defeat to Kovtun.
The realisation that he cannot compete in just the new team competition seems certain to be enough to persuade Plushenko to reconsider his decision.
Under the International Skating Union (ISU) rules, the same staker 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," Piseyev.told R-Sport.
"Yes, Plushenko wants to compete in the Olympics
"Everything will depend on his health."
If Plushenko were to win a medal in the individual event at Sochi 2014, he would become the first skater since Sweden's Gillis Grafström to stand on the podium at four consecutive Olympics.
Grafström won the gold medal at Antwerp 1920, Chamonix 1924 and St Moritz 1928 and silver at Lake Placid 1932.
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December 2013: Plushenko gives up on men's individual event at Sochi 2014 after defeat in Russian Championships
January 2012: Plushenko gives Sochi 2014 hopes boost with Sheffield gold medal
June 2011: Plushenko given green light for Sochi 2014
June 2010: Plushenko banned from Sochi 2014 by International Skating Union
February 2010: Plushenko signs up to be face of Sochi 2014