Things may not be looking good for Russia’s junior hockey program. According to an article posted by a Russian website, Russia’s U-18 team was found using performance enhancing drugs the day prior to the World Junior Championships.
The IIHF World U18 Championships begin in Grand Forks, N.D., next week, and the Russian team was set to fly out tomorrow.
Reports are coming in that the majority of the players on the team were found using a banned substance called meldonium. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which works closely with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), stated that the drug is often used to treat heart conditions but athletes have used it with the belief that it can increase the body’s oxygen uptake, which can aid endurance. It is primarily developed in Latvia and is extremely popular with athletes in Eastern Europe. The drug was banned by the WADA on January 1st, 2016.
This is a major blow to not only to the Russian hockey program but also to the NHL as well. The World Juniors are used to showcase young talent prior to the NHL Entry Drafts. Scouts from all over the NHL attend these tournaments to observe the player’s skills and playmaking abilities in the hopes that they may one day become intrigued pieces for their franchises.
As result of the incident the entire U18 Russian team has been replaced the day before they were set to leave for the 2016 IIHF World U18 Hockey Championship and the team’s head coach was fired.
By Andrei Poleschchuk