Russia faces hockey probe, denies swimming ban
The International Ice Hockey Federation has called for an investigation into Russian hockey and its former president René Fasel (file)
The board of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has asked an independent ethics committee to investigate the Russian Hockey Federation and former IIHF President René Fasel on issues related to the war in Ukraine.
The IIHF on Thursday cited Russia’s instructions to the country’s elite hockey league, the KHL, to support the war and both Fasel’s involvement in the country and his comments about the invasion as reasons. to open investigations.
The board could refer the Russian Federation, Fasel or both to the IIHF Disciplinary Committee if the situation warrants it.
Fasel, who served as IIHF president from 1994 to 2021, has since accepted an advisory position with the KHL, which is considered the best hockey league in the world behind the NHL.
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The 72-year-old Swiss native criticized the IIHF’s decision last month to ban Russia and Belarus from upcoming competitions due to the invasion of Ukraine. In an interview with Russian state media, he called it “a sad moment in the history of the IIHF”, adding that the Soviet Union faced Canada and the United States during the Cold War and said: “Even in such a tense situation as today, sport must carry the message of peace and united people.
The IIHF said its code of ethics requires current and former presidents “to conduct themselves in accordance with the principles of dignity, integrity, loyalty and responsibility in all relationships of a competitive, economic, social (including social media) and morality”.
Fasel has been publicly friendly with Vladimir Putin and has been involved in hockey games the Russian president has attended. Former IIHF communications director Szymon Szemberg has publicly referred to Fasel’s “shady ties to Putin.”
Reached by text, Fasel told The Associated Press he had no comment.
Earlier this month, the Russian federation sent a letter to KHL clubs telling them it was obligatory for them to support efforts in Ukraine, sending pro-war campaign posters ordered to be used . The IIHF said Thursday: “Such an action would constitute a violation of the IIHF Code of Ethics.”
The IIHF has banned teams from Russia and Belarus from all tournaments until further notice. He also revoked Russia’s ability to host the 2023 World Junior Championship.
Meanwhile, Russian and Belarusian swimmers were banned this week from competing at the world championships due to the war in Ukraine.
The sport’s governing body FINA had broken with most other organizations by continuing to allow Russians and Belarusians to compete, but as “neutral athletes” without national symbols.
“Following the review of an independent risk assessment, the FINA Bureau met today and confirmed that athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus will not participate (in the World Championships) “, said FINA.
The event, which will take place in Hungary in June and July, includes swimming, diving, water polo and artistic swimming.
The German and Swiss teams had previously indicated that they could boycott the championships if Russia were still allowed to compete. Russia placed third in the medal table behind China and the United States at the last championships in 2019.
FINA added that Russia responded to the ban by withdrawing from all events on this year’s calendar. Russia was stripped of hosting the world short course championships in Kazan in December and FINA is now looking for a new host.
Russian and Belarusian athletes have already been suspended from sports such as football, athletics, gymnastics, skiing and ice skating due to the invasion of Ukraine.
FINA is also pursuing disciplinary proceedings against swimmer Evgeny Rylov, who participated in a rally in Moscow last week in support of Russian forces and President Vladimir Putin. He won gold in the 100 and 200 meters backstroke at the Tokyo Olympics last year and added a silver medal in the 4×200 freestyle relay.
“FINA maintains its strongest condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” the swimming body said.
Friday [NZ Time] Russia contradicted FINA by saying it had not withdrawn from all events on this year’s calendar in response to its ban from the world championships due to the war in Ukraine.
The Russian swimming federation said FINA issued “an incorrect press release” and only decided to skip the world championships in Budapest.