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Kuznetsov’s disqualification to have no impact on national hockey team — minister

IIHF suspended Russian player Kuznetsov, who is forward of NHL’s Washington Capitals, for four years, citing violations of anti-doping rules
Russian sports minister Pavel Kolobkov Alexander Astafyev/TASS
Russian sports minister Pavel Kolobkov
© Alexander Astafyev/TASS

MOSCOW, August 23. /TASS/. Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said the disqualification of Russian hockey player Yevgeny Kuznetsov will have no impact on the work of the Russian Hockey Federation and the national team.

"Firstly, the situation surrounding Kuznetsov will have no impact on the work of the Russian Hockey Federation and will not affect the national team of the country. Secondly, we have no opportunity to control our athletes, who leave Russia - a country with a different culture - at a young age. Serious anti-doping work is being carried out in Russia, from awareness-raising events at children’s sports schools to specific punitive measures, such as disqualification of coaches," the minister said in a comment, obtained by TASS from the Russian Sports Ministry.

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

An IIHF spokesperson told TASS on Friday that Kuznetsov agreed to return his bronze medal of the 2019 World Championship. Other national team members will not have to return their awards, the organization said.

The IIHF disqualification does not apply to NHL games. The league is to make the decision about Kuznetsov’s future soon. 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.

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.