The IIHF announced on Friday that Washington Capitals’ Evgeny Kuznetsov has been suspended from all international competition until 2023 after testing positive for cocaine use at the 2019 IIHF World Championship in May.
Kuznetsov released the following statement after the ruling:
"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."
The IIHF ban won’t have any implications for Kuznetsov playing in the NHL, but Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly released a statement sharing that Kuznetsov has voluntarily sought help through the education and counselling program provided by the league and will be subject to regular testing protocol.
Statement from NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly on Evgeny Kuznetsov pic.twitter.com/e9MTrKb17I— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) August 23, 2019
Following the World Championship in May, a video circulated online that showed the Russian forward in a hotel room sitting in front of a table with what appears to be two lines of cocaine.
Kuznetsov then issued a statement to sport-express.ru, translated by Capitals blog Russian Machine Never Breaks, in which he said the video was taken last summer in Las Vegas after the Capitals won the Stanley Cup.
Kuznetsov denied any involvement with the substance or ever doing drugs himself.
His translated statement read:
Yes, I saw the video on the internet. I don’t necessarily have anything to do with what is going on around me. I never used drugs and have no intention to get into it. If there are any questions, I am ready to undergo testing.
The video is a year old. It happened in summer of 2018, when we won the Cup in Vegas. It has nothing to do with the World Championship at all. 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.
After this incident, the NHL and the Washington Capitals reviewed the circumstances of the video and deemed the matter “formally closed” after an in-person interview with Kuznetsov.
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