After news broke of Evgeny Kuznetsov's four-year suspension by the IIHF for testing positive for cocaine, the Capitals center released a statement Friday accepting the suspension and expressing his regret for the situation
"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. 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. 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 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."
The question now is what happens next?
Both the Capitals and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly also released statements on Friday saying that Kuznetsov "has voluntarily sought help through the education and counseling program provided for in the NHL/NHLPA collective bargaining agreement and has agreed to a regular testing protocol relating to his involvement with that program."
In addition, Kuznetsov will meet with commissioner Gary Bettman "to discuss his situation and review his conduct prior to the start of Training Camp preceding the 2019-20 season."
While the positive test has resulted in a four-year suspension with the IIHF, it is unclear if any such discipline will be levied on Kuznetsov by the NHL.
Said Daly, "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. 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 left the door open for NHL discipline as he concluded, "We intend to reserve further comment on any additional actions that may or may not be taken with respect to today's announcement (disciplinary or otherwise) pending the completion of the Commissioner's meeting with Mr. Kuznetsov."
The Capitals, meanwhile, expressed support for Kuznetsov saying "we are committed to ensuring he has the necessary support required to work through this situation."
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