Avangard Omsk defenseman Anton Belov has been provisionally suspended after testing positive for a banned stimulant, Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA confirmed Monday.
Russian Deputy Sports Minister Yury Nagornykh told RIA Novosti on Sunday that Belov, 25, had been suspended after failing a drug test after the fourth match of the Gagarin Cup series against Dynamo Moscow in Omsk on Thursday, but did not say what substance the tests had found.
“The RUSADA preliminary examination commission … took the decision to temporarily suspend the athlete from taking part in training camps and competitions until a decision is taken whether there were anti-doping rule violations and on the consequences,” RUSADA said in a website statement.
“The substance detected in the test of the athlete is covered by section six of the Banned List, stimulants.”
The substance could have been consumed with food supplements, Alexander Derevoedov, an advisor to the head of RUSADA, told RIA Novosti on Monday.
“As a rule, it’s nutritional supplements. But I can’t say for certain yet what the cause was in this case,” he said.
Belov’s teammates were told of his positive doping test before the fifth game on Saturday, when he was not included in the squad and Avangard lost 3-2 missed the chance to lift the Gagarin Cup, Avangard player Martin Skoula told RIA Novosti on Sunday.
“It was before the game, they let us know that he is not in the lineup,” Skoula said. Asked whether the team was told it was because of a failed test, Skoula said "Yes."
No players were tested for doping offences after Saturday’s game, Dynamo president Mikhail Tyurkin told RIA Novosti on Saturday.
"It's not just a regular incident, it's an outrageous situation that must be controlled. Instead of that, after the fifth match in Omsk, not one doping test was taken from either team. In my opinion it's just not logical," Tyurkin said.
Avangard leads the series 3-2 ahead of the next game in Moscow on Monday.
Belov’s case is the second major doping incident to involve Avangard in the KHL's four-year history.
In 2008, the team's 19-year-old forward Alexei Cherepanov suffered a heart attack during a KHL game and died soon after. Cherepanov, an NHL draft prospect, was found to have had a previously undetected heart condition.
Federal investigators declared that Cherepanov had engaged in doping over several months. The KHL suspended Avangard president Konstantin Potapov, general manager Anatoly Bardin and two team doctors shortly afterwards.
Belov has played regularly for Avangard since the KHL was formed in 2008, with 45 points in 212 games.