Figure skating-Plushenko has surgery to replace spinal disc

Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:45pm EST

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Jan 31 (Reuters) - Former Olympic champion Yevgeny Plushenko underwent successful back surgery in Tel Aviv on Thursday to replace a deteriorated disc in his spine.

"Yevgeny had an operation to remove one of his spinal discs with a synthetic one," the Russian's long-time coach Alexei Mishin told Reuters.

"The doctor who performed the operation said it was a success (but) ... it's too early to make any prognosis about his return to the ice."

Last week Plushenko, widely regarded as the most gifted skater of his generation, was forced out of the European championships in Zagreb after aggravating his back problem during the short programme.

The 2006 Olympic champion crashed while attempting a triple axel.

Mishin said Plushenko, who had struggled with back pain for more than a year, should not have competed in Zagreb.

"Looking back we all say he should have done something else but it's too late now," Mishin added. "The disc was in such a bad condition."

Plushenko, 30, was sidelined by the injury for almost a year before making a triumphant comeback by claiming his 10th national title at last month's Russian championships in Sochi.

The flamboyant Russian, who controversially lost the 2010 Olympic title to American Evan Lysacek, underwent knee surgery last February, a month after clinching his seventh European crown in Sheffield, England.

"Now he should get a new lease of life and hopefully will come back stronger than he was last year," Mishin said.

"I know he has his mind set on competing at the (2014) Sochi Olympics and I'm sure he'll do whatever it takes to be there in good shape and in good health." (Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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