Washington Capitals centreman Evgeny Kuznetsov has been suspended for four years from international hockey competition after testing positive for cocaine.
An announcement from the International Ice Hockey Federation came Friday morning.
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“Russian forward Evgeny Kuznetsov has received a 4-year suspension from the IIHF after testing positive for a banned substance at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship” states the IIHF’s official Twitter account.
Kuznetsov appeared in a video that surfaced on May 27, 2019 that seemed to show the Russian NHLer standing next to a table full of cocaine and money.
The Washington Capitals confirmed to the Associated Press that it was indeed Kuznetsov in the video.
Kuznetsov claimed that the video was from 2018 during the Capitals Stanley Cup run, telling Russian News outlet Sports Express, “I just came by the room where some people I knew stayed. When I saw what was going on there – unfamiliar women, unknown substances on the table – I called my friend and left as soon as I could.
Unfortunately, someone decided to catch some notoriety just now – after the [Russian team] lost. I have nothing to hide, let this be on conscience of whoever posted the video.”
Back in May, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that it was too soon to comment on the incident, citing the need for more information.
Following the announcement by the IIHF, both the Washington Capitals and Evgeny Kuznetsov have released statements in regards to the suspension.
The Washington Capitals statement reads:
“We are aware of the positive test result and related international sanction that has been imposed on Evgeny Kuznetsov. We are disappointed with this development and take this occurrence seriously. We understand that Evgeny has voluntarily sought help through the education and counseling program provided for in the NHL/NHLPA collective bargaining agreement and has agreed to a regular testing protocol relating to his involvement with that program. In addition, 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.”
Kuznetsov’s statement reads:
“Recently, the IIHF notified me that, due to a positive test for a banned substance, I would be suspended from international competition for four years. I have made the decision to accept this penalty. Representing my country has always been so close to my heart and something I take so much pride in. Not being able to put that sweater on for four years is very hard to take. I have disappointed so many people that are important to me, including my family, teammates and friends. 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. 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.”
Kuznetsov has been provisionally suspended since June 13, 2019 and will last until June 12, 2023.