One of the dangers in covering Semyon Varlamov’s arrest on domestic violence charges is to undermine the severity of the accusation by making it a “hockey story” first and a criminal investigation second.
But it’s impossible to ignore the hockey-related fallout when you have a Russian politician claiming the arrest may be an effort by the U.S. (or, one assumes, the accuser) to undermine his nation’s Olympic team in the 2014 Sochi Olympics by affecting Varlamov's "readiness."
From Voice of Russia, Igor Ananskykh, head of the State Duma Committee for Physical Culture in Russia (part of the Russian government’s lower house), said:
"The situation is really strange, given that the Sochi Olympics will take place soon and Varlamov is a candidate to become part of our national hockey team which we do count on. What about presumption of innocence? It’s not normal at all. Varlamov will fall out of the training process which will have an impact on his readiness before the Olympics in Sochi. The first thing that comes to my mind is that it is an effort to weaken our national team.”
Semyon Varlamov was expected to vie with Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets for the starting role on the Russian Olympic team on its home ice in Sochi. His brilliant start for the Colorado Avalanche appeared to greatly improve his chances.
Where Ananskykh is right: This situation certainly could derail Varlamov’s campaign for the starting job and, potentially, the Sochi squad.
But the rest of his analysis … what’s the Russian phrase for “deplorable speculation?”