Report: IIHF President Luc Tardiff Will Not Lift Evgeny Kuznetsov’s Suspension For Olympics

Russian media outlets reported on Thursday that Washington Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov will not be permitted to play for the Russian national team at the 2022 Olympics.

Luc Tardiff, President of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) said that he will not lift Kuznetsov’s current four-year suspension from international play and that Kuznetsov will not be permitted to take part in the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing.

“I won’t change the decision on Kuznetsov. I’m sorry, but it won’t change. He won’t be able to play in Beijing. I know that I upset everyone with the answer, but we can’t change the rules for one thing,” said Tardif.

In 2019, the IIHF suspended a Russian for four years for testing positive for cocaine. The Capitals forward cannot play for the Russian national team until June 12, 2023.

From left to right: Sergi Bubka (President National Olympic Committee of Ukraine), Vadym Gutsait (Minister of Sports and Education), Luc Tardif (IIHF President) and Georgi Zubko (President Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine).

Tardif is in Russia this week to attend the World Hockey Forum and to meet with Russian ice hockey representatives ahead of plans to host the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship and the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.

President of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation (RHF), Vladislav Tretyak, commented on the decision of the IIHF to not to allow Kuznetsov to participate the Olympics. “The Ice Hockey Federation has done everything possible. We are sorry that he will not play.”

The deputy executive director of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, Alexander Kiknadze, told reporters, “Kuznetsov, most likely, would have little chance of winning a case in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

“As soon as there was news that Kuznetsov was disqualified and after WADA updated the list of prohibited substances and sanctions for their use, we contacted IIHF about the possibility of reducing the period of ineligibility, which is stipulated by the anti-doping code. But we received a response from IIHF lawyers that at the moment it is simply impossible, legally, including due to the fact that Kuznetsov continues to play in the National Hockey League, “Kiknadze said.

“If we look at the legal side of the issue, then most likely there is no [chance of winning the case in CAS], because there is a certain set of legally significant circumstances that would be considered by the arbitrators and taken into account when making a decision. And based on this set of circumstances, it turns out that there was little chance of reducing the period of ineligibility.”

Kiknadze added, “We have talked with the agent, the lawyer and Evgeny himself more than once, and it is better to ask them about this. As far as I know, they did not file an appeal.”

Head coach of the Russian National team, Alexei Zhamnov, also commented on the decision regarding Kuznetsov.

“All the nuances will be announced by the federation. We did everything that was required of us. Ilya Kovalchuk flew to New York, talked with the NHLPA, NHL, there were negotiations with the IIHF, tried to do everything possible, but there are many nuances where we are powerless. The verdict was announced today, nothing will change. To be honest, it’s a pity. When we started dialogue, it seemed like we saw a ray of light in the tunnel. But it turned out that this is not the case.”

Members of the Russian national team, including team manager and former Washington Capitals forward Ilya Kovalchuk had been attempting to lift Kuznetsov’s ban in time for the Olympics.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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