Russian media outlet Sports.ru is reporting that Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov will not be allowed to participate in the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics to be held in Beijing, China in February. Kuznetsov was originally banned in 2019 for four years by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) for testing positive for cocaine.
The Russian Ice Hockey Federation (RIHF) recently inquired about a possible early reinstatement in order to allow Kuznetsov to play in the Olympics. However, it appears all avenues for appeals have fallen short.
RIHF President Vladislav Tretyak was asked about the possible participation of Kuznetsov in an interview on Wednesday. “That would be amazing news. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do. We tried, but we were immediately told that there were no options,” said Tretyak.
The IIHF originally suspended Kuznetsov for a violation of World Anti-Doping Code Article 2.1 (Presence of a Prohibited Substance). The case concerns a test indicating a prohibited substance, cocaine, according to section S6.a (non-specified substance) of the World Anti-Doping Code 2019 Prohibited List.
The prohibited substance was found in a doping control test which occurred on May 26, 2019, during the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. The period of ineligibility originally imposed was for four years, to conclude on June 12th, 2023.
Kuznetsov released a statement following the banning notification announced by the IIHF in August of 2019.
“Recently, the IIHF notified me that, due to a positive test for a banned substance, I would be suspended from international competition for four years. I have made the decision to accept this penalty. Representing my country has always been so close to my heart and something I take so much pride in. Not being able to put that sweater on for four years is very hard to take. I have disappointed so many people that are important to me, including my family, teammates and friends. From the first day I took the ice in D.C., the Washington Capitals organization and our fans have been nothing but great to me and my family. I feel absolutely terrible for letting you down. I realize that the only way I can win you back is to take ownership of my situation and my actions from this point forward.”
The NHL has yet to formally announce if NHL players will be allowed to participate in the upcoming Olympics. However, the league has prepared a 2021-22 regular season schedule that will include a three-week break in February to accommodate the Olympic games. A final decision is expected any day.
By Jon Sorensen