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IIHF suspends Kuznetsov 4 years for testing positive for cocaine

RvS.Media/Robert Hradil / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Warning: Video contains graphic content

Washington Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov has been suspended by the IIHF for four years after testing positive for cocaine at the 2019 World Championship.

"The prohibited substance was found in a doping control which occurred on 26 May 2019 at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship," the IIHF stated in its release.

Kuznetsov did not require the analysis of his B-sample - a secondary procedure to verify the accuracy of the initial test - and was provisionally suspended June 13, 2019, the IIHF said. His suspension will conclude June 12, 2023. If the NHL goes to the Olympics in 2022, he will not be eligible to participate.

A video surfaced on May 27 showing Kuznetsov sitting at a table next to two lines of white powder.

Following the release of the video, Kuznetsov claimed he had "never used drugs" and said the footage was taken after the Capitals' Stanley Cup victory in 2018.

The NHL issued a statement on the matter in May, saying, "while we certainly do not condone or endorse some of the decisions he made on the night in question, Mr. Kuznetsov's account of the events that transpired aligns with other information we have been able to gather, and we have found no basis to question his representations with respect to what did - and what did not - occur. We consider the matter formally closed."

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly addressed Kusnetsov's suspension Friday morning, noting, "cocaine isn't considered a performance-enhancing drug and is therefore not a prohibited substance under the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program."

Kuznetsov also issued a statement Friday, taking ownership of the situation and accepting the IIHF's four-year ban:

The 27-year-old center helped lead Russia to a bronze-medal finish at the 2019 worlds after the Carolina Hurricanes bounced his Capitals in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Kuznetsov was phenomenal during the Capitals' postseason run in the spring of 2018, leading all players with 32 playoff points en route to Washington's first championship. He followed that up with a 72-point campaign in 2018-19.

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