On Monday, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced their decision to ban Russia from competing in major international sporting events for the next four years, including the 2020 Summer Olympics and the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The decision comes in response to Russia’s state-sponsored doping program which similarly saw the country banned from the 2018 Olympics. Earlier this year, Russia’s anti-doping labs were again accused of manipulating data submitted to WADA.
Alex Ovechkin, who has been a vocal advocate for NHL players being allowed to participate in the 2022 Beijing Olympics, responded to the serious ban to his home country.
Ovechkin said that he had only learned of the ban shortly before Capitals practice began. He called the news “disappointing”.
“I just heard it today,” Ovechkin said, as reported by the Washington Post’s Sam Pell. “Obviously, it’s sad news but I think gonna have more information later. It’s bad. I feel bad for people working so hard for this moment and they can’t be there.”
Ovechkin held out some hope that the situation would be figured out in time for the 2022 Olympics.
“We still have a long time ‘til the Olympics to figure out what to do. What’s better to do. Hope everything’s going to be fine,” said Ovechkin.
As previously with the 2018 ban, Russian athletes who have not been implicated in the doping scheme will be allowed to participate in the Olympic Games, as “unaffiliated athletes”. In Pyeongchang, the Russian hockey team won the gold medal while competing as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” without the Russian flag or anthem.
The four-year ban will cover international competitions overseen by WADA, and excludes Russia from being able to host international competitions as well.
The 2023 IIHF Hockey World Championship was scheduled to be hosted by Russia. In November, the chief of the IIHF said it would be difficult to reschedule the location.
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