Washington Capitals: Evgeny Kuznetsov suspended four years by IIHF

The IIHF has handed Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov a four-year suspension after testing positive for cocaine.

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov hasn’t had the best offseason. In May, a video was released showing an incident where he appeared to be doing cocaine in a Las Vegas hotel room. Kuznetsov came out and said that the video was from 2018 after the Caps won the Stanley Cup and that he has never done drugs. He added that as soon as he saw the substance on the table, he called his friend and left the hotel.

Friday morning, however, the IIHF announced that the Russian forward has received a four year ban for a violation of the World anti-doping Code article 2.1 (presence of a prohibited substance).

The report goes on to say that positive test occurred in May of 2019 and the substance found to be in Kuznetsov’s was indeed cocaine.

This is a bad look on many fronts. However, Kuznetsov will likely not be facing discipline for the league. The NHL released a statement saying cocaine is not considered a performance-enhancing drug, so taking it is not a suspendable action in itself.

There will, however, be mandatory treatment for Kuznetsov. He could be suspended, pending the results of a meeting he will have with commissioner Gary Bettman.

It also proves that Kuznetsov lied when addressing the reports from May. He wouldn’t be the first athlete to lie when involved with drugs, but it isn’t a great look that just three months later, he is banned by the IIHF for four years.

Furthermore, Kuznetsov is coming off of what many considered a down year. He tallied 21 goals and 51 assists for the Caps last year but was an albatross defensively.

He is poor on faceoffs and looked nothing like the guy that helped propel the Caps to the 2017 Stanley Cup. There is no great time for these types of suspensions to surface, but coming off of a bad year ranks as one of the worse times to hear about this.

While Kuznetsov will not be facing suspension from the NHL, this isn’t a sign of things to come for one of Washington’s star pivots. If Kuznetsov has issues with cocaine, my hopes would be the Capitals and the league would act swiftly in getting him whatever help he may need to get over his issues with the drug. Maybe this was a one-time situation and Kuznetsov just got unlucky with the timing of the testing.

My money is on the former. Kuznetsov is a key piece for Washington as they look to get back to the Stanley Cup Final after fizzling in round one last season. The Caps need a healthy (physically and mentally) Kuznetsov for this to become a reality. Hopefully, this is the wake-up call Kuzy needs to get his career back on the upswing.