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Russian World Champion Suspended For Doping

Russian forward Danis Zaripov, a three-time world champion who played at the 2010 Olympics, has been suspended for a period of two years.

In a statement, the Kontinental Hockey League announced Zaripov failed a doping test last season. It was remarked one of the samples provided by Zaripov contained banned stimulants plus substances prohibited as diuretics and masking agents.

The four-time Gagarin Cup champion and three-time world champion is one of the most decorated Russian veterans. The left winger was long regarded as one of the best players outside the National Hockey League. He won the IIHF world championship three times with the Russian national team and also won the KHL's Gagarin Cup four times. Zaripov has spent the last four seasons with Magnitogorsk Metallurg.

Zaripov, who had 16 goals and 29 assists in 56 games with runners-up Metallurg Magnitogorsk last season, would appeal against the suspension. It was remarked by KHL that 377 doping tests conducted last season were administered with the help of the IIHF and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), along with the Doping Free Sport Unit of SportAccord, the umbrella organization for international sports federations.

In a statement, the KHL said the Russian Hockey Federation maintains active contacts with KHL clubs regarding the anti-doping regulations. It was also commented that doctors from the RHF and the national team are in permanent contact with their colleagues from the (KHL) clubs, they exchange medical data via a special web portal, but unfortunately it is impossible to exercise control over everything the players do. The KHL statement also reads that Zaripov is an outstanding and famous player, who had a splendid career, and added the Russian Ice Hockey Federation will never forget his merits and achievements and will extend the necessary support for him.

The KHL also announced doping suspensions for two other KHL players, former National Hockey League (NHL) player Derek Smith and Russian defenceman Andrei Konev, who were suspended for making use of banned stimulants. The Kontinental Hockey League said the ban on Konev will last until November 19, 2017 and Smith, a Canadian who played for the Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators, will remain suspended until September 2, 2018 while Zaripov has been suspended until May 22, 2019.

The suspension of Danis Zaripov is a rare case of a doping ban among high-profile Russian national ice hockey players. Zaripov won three world championships with Russia. He was on the team that lost to Canada in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics quarter-finals. His suspension raises questions about his eligibility to play in the National Hockey League (NHL), top league of the world that operates under its own rules.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly remarked Zaripov would not be eligible to play in the league as long as he is party to a valid and binding contract in Russia. Daly added the situation would have to be reevaluated if he ever became free of his contractual obligation.

Ak Bars Kazan, the KHL club that signed Zaripov to a contract of two years, announced in a statement that the agreement had yet to come into force because he was still undergoing medical tests.

Reacting to the suspension, Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said all those who violate anti-doping regulations must be punished, regardless of their names and titles.

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Albert Wolfgang
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