Former Washington Capitals forward and current manager of the Russian national hockey team, Ilya Kovalchuk, has been busy preparing for the upcoming Olympics in February. As part of his duties as manager of the National team, Kovalchuk is leading the charge to lift Evgeny Kuznetsov’s current suspension by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).
“We are working on this very closely. If there is specific news, and it will be possible to resolve the issue so that Evgeny plays at the Olympics, this will be announced by the head coach or through the Federation. Everything is in progress now,” Kovalchuk told Match.tv.
“Kuznetsov is one of the candidates for the national team, one of the leaders of our team. Of course we would very much like to see Evgeny in Beijing, and indeed, for him to play for the Russian national team.”
Kovalchuk said that representatives from several entities are working together to reach a resolution.
“I hope that by universal forces, together with the Federation, lawyers and representatives of the NHL Players Association, we can achieve a positive result. But for now there are no specifics, yet,” added Kovalchuk. “I don’t even want to talk about chances. We are just dealing with this very important issue for us. If there is news, we’ll tell you right away.”
The IIHF originally suspended Kuznetsov for a violation of World Anti-Doping Code Article 2.1 (Presence of a Prohibited Substance). The case centered on a test that indicated a prohibited substance, cocaine, violating 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 was conducted on May 26, 2019 at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. Kuznetsov was subsequently banned from international competition for a period of four years.
Regardless of the outcome of Kuznetsov’s appeal, Kovalchuk, like the rest of the world, realizes that participation in the Olympics is still somewhat uncertain.
“There are always risks. Look – in Japan, the final of the Grand Prix in figure skating was canceled. And a new strain of the virus has appeared in the world, and everyone is worried. But we are all in the same situation. We will wait until January 10, when the NHL should finally decide on its participation.”
By Jon Sorensen