IOC President says Plushenko's behavior only an expression of disappointment
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge criticized Jamaica's Usain Bolt as being disrespectful to his competitors when the Jamaican sprinter celebrated his victory in the 100 meters at the Beijing Olympics well before the finish line.
Yet Rogge pretty much gave Russian figure skater Evgeni Plushenko a pass for repeated comments disrespectful of his opponents and his sport after losing the Olympic men's figure skating title Thursday to Evan Lysacek of the United States.
Plushenko, the 2006 Olympic champion, also made light of the awards ceremony and the traditional medalists' victory lap.
In the awards ceremony, he jumped up to the gold medalist's step on the podium, grinned and then walked to the lower silver medal step. He tried to avoid the victory lap and wasted no time removing the silver medal from his neck once leaving the ice.
Asked on Saturday for his reaction to Plushenko's behavior, Rogge said, "I think he was very disappointed, obviously, and some times in disappointment, you express things you wouldn't express at another time.''
Rogge said he did not know that Plushenko said a competition in which the winner did not try a quadruple jump was "not men's skating. It is dance.''
"If that is the case, it is ill-advised, of course,'' Rogge said.
Rogge asked to be told what Plushenko said. After hearing it, the IOC president said.
"He should respect his competitors, which I think he does. He has probably pronounced some words in the emotion of disappointment, but definitely he has to respect his opponents, of course.''
Rogge's views of Bolt's antics were much different.
"That's not the way we perceive being a champion." Rogge said in an interview with three international news agency reporters in Beijing.
"I have no problem with him doing a show. I think he should show more respect for his competitors and shake hands, give a tap on the shoulder to the other ones immediately after the finish and not make gestures like the one he made in the 100 meters.''
In Beijing, Rogge did not soften his feelings a few days later, after the Jamaican had won the 100, 200 and relay golds, all in world-record times.
"I gave Usain Bolt what I think is fatherly advice, and I stand by what I said,'' Rogge said in his final Beijing news conference. "He should show more respect for his opponents. He is a young man of 22. He has time to mature.''
Plushenko is 27. He has competed in three Olympics, winning two silver medals and one gold. That would seem plenty of time mature.
Of course, it certainly is a lot easier to take on a little Caribbean island than mighty Russia, once an Olympic superpower and host of the next Winter Games.
Photo: Evgeni Plushenko takes the wrong route to the silver medalist's step. Credit: Cameron Spencer / Associated Press