SOCHI, Russia, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Russian figure skater Evgeny Plushenko will undergo surgery for a back problem that forced him to withdraw from the Olympics, a doctor said.
Surgeons plan to replace a screw in an artificial disc implanted last year in Plushenko's spine that broke while he was warming up on the ice in Sochi.
"It is a one-piece screw and it just broke," Dr. Ilya Pekarsky, who operated on Plushenko last year, told Channel One TV Saturday. "In order to extract it, we need to partially remove vertebra, which gives the patient more pain and complicates my work."
Plushenko won a gold medal in team event at Sochi, but he withdrew from the individual competition just minutes before the event began due to the new injury.
Plushenko's role on the Olympic team was a topic of controversy among Russian fans, R-Sport said. Plushenko has undergone a dozen surgeries on his back and knees in recent years, and some fans clamored for younger and healthier 18-year-old Maxim Kovtun to take his place on the Sochi squad.