Initially, it looked like the 2014 Olympics were going to be a badge of pride for Latvia. Their eighth-place finish was their best in history, with a trip to the quarterfinals and a near-upset of the juggernaut Canadians once there.
But now the entire thing is on the verge of being a national shame. At the tail end of the tournament, we learned that forward Vitalijs Pavlovs had failed a drug test. And now, after a second player reportedly did the same, Latvia runs the risk of being disqualified from the tournament entirely. From the Globe & Mail:
Under International Olympic Committee rules, teams aren’t punished unless more than one player commits an anti-doping rule violation. That’s why Nicklas Backstrom’s disqualification for use of allergy medication hasn’t affected Sweden’s silver medal even though he was not allowed to participate in Sunday’s gold-medal final.
The IOC is still investigating the second Latvian case and the offending player’s name has yet to be released. The entire team may be subject to “target testing” if it’s determined multiple athletes failed tests, and the IOC can subsequently withhold funding from the Latvian Olympic Committee.
This is bad. Latvia's best Olympics ever could seen be known as their drug test-failingest Olympics ever.
If indeed this second player tested positive, Latvia would become the first hockey team to have two players do so in the same Olympics. And if the IOC comes down hard on them, perhaps nixing the team's eighth place finish, that would be a first as well.
It would also affect Latvia's world ranking, which improved to 10th in the world after Sochi.
Finally, sadly, it would completely overshadow the incredible story of Kristers Gudlevskis, who split time between the ECHL and the AHL this season before his performance against Canada earned him a call up to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He's about to become the first goalie to play in all three leagues and the Olympics in the same season.
Unless the IOC decides he and his countrymen were never there.