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Russian hockey legend Fetisov slams Kuznetsov’s ban over cocaine as ‘national disgrace’

Yevgeni Kuznetsov has recieved 4-year ban over doping abuse

MOSCOW, August 23. /TASS/. A suspension of Russian ice hockey player Yevgeni Kuznetsov over doping abuse is ‘a disgrace’ to the Russian hockey and the whole country, Russia’s legendary ice hockey player and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Vyacheslav Fetisov told TASS on Friday.

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) announced earlier in the day that it suspended Russian player Kuznetsov, who is a forward of NHL’s Washington Capitals, for the term of four years, citing violations of anti-doping regulations.

According to the world’s governing ice hockey body, Kuznetsov’s doping sample, which tested positive for cocaine, was collected on May 26 during the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Slovakia.

"The most important in the present-day developments is not whether he would be able continue playing in the NHL, but the fact that he disgraced the Russian ice hockey and the whole country as well," Russia’s two-time Olympic champion and three-time winner of the NHL Stanley Cup Fetisov said in an interview with TASS.

"This is simply awful in the times, when we [Russia] keep struggling to improve our reputation," Fetisov, who is also a member of the Russian parliament’s lower house (the State Duma), said.

"I just cannot understand what he had been thinking about as it is a dead-end irresponsibility and disgrace," he added.

The IIHF’s four-year suspension means that the 27-year-old Russian ice hockey player, who is the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup winner, will banned from taking part in all matches supervised by the IIHF and KHL (Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League) and is most likely to skip the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in China’s Beijing.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly announced in a statement on Friday that the North American ice hockey league did not list cocaine as a performance enhancing drug.

"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," according to the statement.

Kuznetsov joined NHL’s Washington Capitals in 2013 and booked in the previous regular season 72 points (21 goals, 51 assists) in addition to six points (1 goal, 5 assists) in the playoffs. Playing for the Russian national team, Kuznetsov is the two-time gold medalist (2012 and 2014) and three-time bronze medalist (2016, 2017, 2019) of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships.

According to an official statement from the IIHF earlier in the day: "The prohibited substance was found in a doping control which occurred on 26 May 2019 at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. The player didn’t require the analysis of his B-sample and was provisionally suspended on 13th June 2019. The period of ineligibility to be imposed shall be four years, concluding on 12th June 2023.".