The IIHF’s Friday statement indicates that Kuznetsov was in violation of the World Anti-Doping Code Article 2.1, and that the detected cocaine traces were found “in a doping control which occurred on 26 May 2019 at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.”
“The player didn’t require the analysis of his B-sample and was provisionally suspended on 13th June 2019. The period of ineligibility to be imposed shall be four years, concluding on 12th June 2023,” it adds.
As such, Kuznetsov, who plays for the Washington Capitals and competes internationally for the Russian national team, will be prohibited from donning the Russian coat of arms on the ice for the next four years.
According to ESPN, the development comes months after the 27-year-old hockey player appeared in a since-deleted video, sitting in a hotel room near chopped lines of a white, powdery substance. At the time, Kuznetsov rejected the notion that he took drugs.
The Chelyabinsk native released a statement following the IIHF’s announcement, stating that he was informed of the positive cocaine test and that he would be accepting the four-year suspension from international games.
“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,” the statement reads. “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 DC, 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,” it adds.
Kuznetsov has not been hit with any disciplinary measures from the US’ National Hockey League (NHL).
“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," the league’s Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. "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."
Daly’s statement went on to note that Kuznetsov has opted to undergo regular testing with the NHL’s drug program and will be meeting with Commissioner Gary Bettman in an effort to discuss the matter and review his conduct ahead of the upcoming NHL season.