Russian star Danis Zaripov banned two years for doping

Danis Zaripov is one of the most familiar names to Russian hockey fans.

This week, the KHL announced he’s been suspended for two years on a doping violation.

From the KHL:

The anti-doping program in the KHL Championship 2016-17 season was conducted jointly with the IIHF and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in accordance with the SportAccord Convention – DFSU (Doping Free Sport Unit), and other international agencies accredited by WADA and concerned with the collection of tests and laboratory analysis of results. A total of 377 tests were conducted during the 2016-17 Championship.

The IIHF has informed the KHL that three players – forward Danis Zaripov (then with Metallurg Magnitogorsk), defenseman Andrei Konev (Admiral Vladivostok) and defenseman Derek Smith (Medvescak Zagreb) – have tested positive for banned substances.

Smith played for the Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames from 2009-2014, and joined the KHL last season. He’s banned for a year, eligible to return on Sept. 1, 2018. Konev is banned until Nov. 19, 2017. As for Zaripov, he’s done until May 22, 2019.

Zaripov tested positive for a category S6.b stimulant plus category S5 diuretics and masking agents.

He’s played in their pro leagues since 1999, and was a forward for Kazan Ak Bars from 2001-13, including when that team joined the Kontinental Hockey League in 2008 after playing in the Russian Super League. Zaripov, 36, has spent the last four seasons with Magnitogorsk Metallurg. In total, he’s won four KHL Gagarin Cup championships and three world championships for the Russian national team. He was a Russian Olympian in 2010.

Said the KHL, in a statement:

“The Russian Hockey Federation maintains active contacts with KHL clubs regarding the anti-doping regulations. 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.

“Zaripov is an outstanding and famous player, who had a splendid career,” the statement said. “The Russian Ice Hockey Federation will never forget his merits and achievements and will extend the necessary support for him.”

This suspension will affect both their KHL careers and their status in any IIHF tournaments.

For Zaripov, that means there won’t be a reunion with his old club. He signed a two-year deal with Ak Bars in the offseason.

Via Russia Today and SovSport, Zaripov said:

“From what I understand, the substance for which I received a two-year ban is not (a performance enhancer) itself,” he said. “But WADA [the World Anti-Doping Agency] experts for some reason decided that it was covering some stimulants. Or to be exact, it could have covered them. But I have a long career in hockey behind my back, and I can say with 100 percent confidence that I have never consumed anything illegal.”

Incredibly, there might still be a place for Zaripov to play next season: The NHL, which conducts its doping tests independent of WADA. Although one imagines his age, plus this violation, would make signing him radioactive. Expect an appeal of the ban from Zaripov instead.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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