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Capitals star Kuznetsov banned from Russia team for 4 years

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov tested positive for cocaine at the world championship and has been banned from the Russian national team for four years.

Kuznetsov failed a doping test taken May 26 — the day Russia won the bronze medal game against the Czech Republic in Slovakia, the International Ice Hockey Federation said Friday.

The previous day, Russia had lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Finland.

Kuznetsov faced allegations of drug use at the world championships after a video posted on social media showed Kuznetsov talking to someone and lines of white powder and American dollar bills could be seen on the table. However, it was unclear when the clip was filmed.

Kuznetsov, who did not touch the powder in the soon-deleted video, said it was from 2018 in Las Vegas after the Capitals won the Stanley Cup. He said it was a friend's hotel room and he soon left after seeing drugs there.

"I never took drugs, give me a drug test and I'll pass it," he told Russian media outlet Sport Express in May.

The NHL closed its review of the incident within days, saying it found no reason to question the player's explanation.

The IIHF said the ban expires on June 12, 2023. That excludes the 27-year-old Kuznetsov from the 2022 Beijing Olympics and the next three world championships.

The ban does not affect playing for the Capitals, who won the 2018 Stanley Cup with Kuznetsov starring in the playoffs.

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