The International Ice Hockey Federation has suspended Washington Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov for testing positive for cocaine.
The drug is banned under the World Anti-Doping Code.
“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,” Kuznetsov said in a statement. “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.”
Kuznetsov will be ineligible for four years, with his suspension concluding on June 12, 2023. He was provisionally suspended on June 13.
“We are aware of the positive test result and related international sanction that has been imposed on Evgeny Kuznetsov,” the Washington Capitals said in a statement. “We are disappointed with this development and take this occurrence seriously.
“In addition, we are committed to ensuring he has the necessary support required to work through this situation.”
Cocaine is not considered a performance-enhancing drug in the NHL and is not prohibited under the NHL’s Performance Enhancing Substances Program.
“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,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement.
Daly says that Kuznetsov has agreed to a meeting with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, and that no decisions have been made on whether any additional disciplinary actions are required.
“I have disappointed so many people that are important to me, including my family, teammates and friends,” Kuznetsov said. “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.”