Kuznetsov suspended by IIHF for cocaine


The International Ice Hockey Federation has suspended Evgeny Kuznetsov for testing positive to a prohibited substance. 

Kuznetsov's case concerns a test that indicated a positive result for cocaine, according to the IIHF.

The Washington Capitals forward was playing for Russia this summer at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship and the prohibited substance was found during a doping control test which occurred on May 26. He has received a four-year ban for the positive test result.

"The player didn’t require the analysis of his B-sample and was provisionally suspended on 13th June 2019," per a statement from the IIHF. 

Kuznetsov said in a statement Friday accepting the penalty from the IIHF and taking ownership for his actions.

"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," Kuznetsov said. "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."

In a statement, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said they were fully briefed by the IIHF of the positive test result.

“Unlike the IIHF, cocaine is not considered a performance enhancing drug and is therefore not a Prohibited Substance under the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. Instead, it is considered a drug of abuse that is tested for and for which intervention, evaluation and mandatory treatment can occur in appropriate cases," the statement reads. 

"Mr. Kuznetsov has voluntarily sought help through the education and counseling program provided for in the NHL and NHLPA collective bargaining agreement and has agreed to a regular testing protocol relating to his involvement with that program."

The NHL said Kuznetsov has agreed to meet with Commissioner Gary Bettman in-person and discuss the situation prior to training camp. The league said they will not comment or take any additional actions, disciplinary or otherwise, until after he meets with Bettman.

The Capitals released a statement acknowledging the positive test result and said they were committed to helping Kuznetsov. 

"We are committed to ensuring he has the necessary support required to work through this situation. We will remain in contact with the NHL as they determine the next steps. Because of the sensitive nature surrounding this matter, there will be no further comment from us at this time," the statement read.

Kuznetsov denied using cocaine over the summer after a mysterious video appeared in May showing him in a hotel room seated by a table with a white powdery substance and a rolled-up bill. 

"Yes, I saw this video appear on the network," Kuznetsov said in his statement, translated through Google. "I do not always have something to do with what is happening next to me. I have never used drugs and I am not going to get involved in this. If I have questions, I am ready to undergo a medical examination at any time." 

"This video year. It was the summer of 2018 in Vegas, when we won the Stanley Cup (with the 'Washington' ). By the past World Cup is all the more irrelevant. I just went to my friends in the room. When I saw what was happening there - unfamiliar women, strange substances on the table - he called a friend and left there as soon as possible," the statement continued. 

The NHL cleared him after closing an inquiry into a situation in the days that followed. 

"While we certainly do not condone or endorse some of the decisions he made on the night in question, Mr. Kuznetsov's account of the events that transpired aligns with other information we have been able to gather, and we have found no basis to question his representations with respect to what did -- and what did not -- occur," Daly said in a statement in May. "We consider the matter formally closed."

After the NHL concluded their inquiry the Caps released a statement expressing their disappointment.

"In addition to doing our own due diligence, we met with Evgeny to discuss the video circulated on social media. While we are disappointed by his presence in the video, we accept his explanation and apology for putting himself in an unfortunate situation," the Caps' statement read. "Evgeny has been a terrific player and an active member of our community, and we expect him to learn from this experience and uphold both the standards the organization has for him as well as his own."

In a statement posted on the Capitals website, Kuznetsov denied using illegal drugs. 

"While I have never taken illegal drugs in my life and career, I would like to publicly apologize to the Capitals, my teammates, our fans and everyone else, for putting myself in a bad situation," he said in a statement. "This was a hard lesson for me to learn."

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