Evgeny Kuznetsov, Capitals star, gets four-year ban from IIHF after testing positive for cocaine

The International Ice Hockey Federation announced on Friday that Washington Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov has been suspended from international play for four years after he tested positive for cocaine.

In May, a video surfaced allegedly showing the NHL star with lines of white powder on a nearby table. At the time, Kuznetsov denied ever doing illegal drugs.

"I never took drugs, give me a drug test and I'll pass it," Kuznetsov told Russian media outlet Sport Express after the video went viral.

The International Ice Hockey Federation did take note, however, and with the responsibility of overseeing world competitions such as the Olympics and World Championship, investigated further. The IIHF felt a drug test was the next step, and the Stanley Cup champion failed the one given to him on May 26. 

With the four year international play suspension, the Russian hockey player will not be able to join his home country for international tournaments until June 12, 2023, meaning he will not be able to take place in the 2022 Beijing Olympics. 

The NHL however, does not consider cocaine a performance enhancing drug, so the procedure there is different. 

"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. Here, we understand that 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."

Kuznetsov also released a statement of his own:

"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 is taking responsibility and apologizing to his team and those close to him. The Capitals also released a statement acknowledging his voluntary efforts to seek help. 

The 27-year-old was the leading scorer in the playoffs when the Capitals raised the Cup in 2018. 

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