In the gymnastics world, suspension is the equivalent of national team members being told “Go to your room!” by their respective federations and, occassionally, the International Gymnastics Federation. This means, really, that they aren’t allowed to go out and play at international competitions until they are deemed to have learned their lesson and are “ungrounded” by whoever punished them in the first place.
It seems to be more of a problem for hyperflexible rhythmic gymnasts than artistic ones (see entries for Chaschina, Irina and Kabayeva, Alina.) The only example I can think of involving an artistic gymnast doping is poor Andreea Raducan, who was given a flu medication containing a banned substance by the Romanian team doctor hours before the all-around competition at the 2000 Olympics. Everyone and their coach agrees that Radcuan was not at fault for the error and that the substance did not help her performance.
Returning to the present: Russia self-sanctioned team stars Maxim Deyvatovsky and Yulia Lozhechko, arguably the country’s two top all-around performers, respectively, for “their respective behavior at the World Championships,” according to International Gymnast Magazine. The reasons had nothing to do with doping.
Deyvatovsky was suspended for his behavior during Friday’s all-around competition, when he left the arena before the sixth rotation. It is a violation of FIG rules for a non-injured gymnast to leave the competition area before the end of the tournament.
In the all-around final, Devyatovsky had been second in the rankings before he fell on the parallel bars in the fifth rotation. He did not finish his routine and he received a score of 3.725. Rodionenko said the team doctor examined Devyatovsky and, finding no injury, cleared him to compete on the high bar.
Devyatovsky, however, having lost all chance of a medal, shrugged off the last event, saying, “I don’t have any interest in finishing outside of the top three. There’s no difference to me between seventh place or 24th.”
[Russian head coach Andrei] Rodionenko said the national team coaches declared Devyatovsky’s attitude “unworthy” of the Russian team. He singled out 2005 world champion Hiroyuki Tomita (Japan) as an example of a gymnast who performed with dignity in the men’s all-around final. In the sixth rotation, Tomita fell heavily from the high bar, and yet finished his routine despite also having no hope for a medal.
“(Tomita) finished the way you’d expect from a world champion,” Rodionenko said in an interview posted on the Russian Gymnastics Federation’s official Web site. “Maxim just doesn’t have these same qualities. He could have finished an honorable 24th place, and now it is a shameful 24th place.”
Lozhechko has apparently been disciplined for not obeying her coaches in throwing a planned Patterson (double arabian) dismount on balance beam during team qualifications. She fell on the dismount and didn’t make event finals.
[Rodionenko] said her goal was to reach the individual final and that she instead ended up costing the team points.
Rodionenko, a senior trainer for the Soviets in the 1970s and 1980s, said the current generation of Russian gymnasts needs to understand that the team comes first.
“I have come to the conclusion: if athletes are unable to put aside their personal interests for the sake of the team, they need to leave,” he said. “To keep up team moral is much more important than the whims of a single, even a very talented, individual.”
The competition in Stuttgart is obviously not going to medal in the World Championships of Sportsmanlike Conduct. In addition to the Russians’ antics, American Alicia Sacramone ruined what was otherwise a fantastic competition for her by crying when her score on floor exercise during event finals was announced, then looking sullen on the medal stand. She had finished second to compatriot Shawn Johnson.
Sacramone on floor during event finals:
It’s too bad for Sacramone, who at 19 was the oldest female member of the U.S. team in Stuttgart, to end her competition by acting like spoiled seven-year-old and not the supportive leader she appeared to be during team finals, where the American women as a whole won the gold medal.
Add China’s Li Shanshan, who tied with Steliana Nistor for silver on beam, to the list of criers. Shanshan, who fell off on her exquisite full turn with her leg held up, was apparently in tears after learning American Nastia Liukin’s score. Liukin won her second world title on the event.
Liukin herself was the subject of some controversy after narrowly losing the uneven bar final to Russia’s Ksenia Semyonova. Nastia’s father and coach Valeri Liukin and National Team Coordinator Martha Karolyi both blamed an Australian judge for giving Liukin too low of an execution score, which ranked her seventh out of the final’s eight competitors.
According to this L.A. Times article, Liukin and Karolyi are crying foul play.
“It’s cheating,” Valeri Liukin said, “and it’s been going on this whole competition.”