Doping scandal hits Gagarin Cup finals

The KHL’s Gagarin Cup final series has been marred by the news that one of its key participants, Avangard Omsk defenseman Anton Belov, has been suspended after testing positive for a banned substance.

Russian Deputy Sports Minister Yury Nagornykh told RIA Novosti on Sunday that the 25-year-old tested positive after the fourth match of the Gagarin Cup finals against Dynamo Moscow on Thursday.

He missed the fifth game on Saturday, snatched by Dynamo, 3-2, to cut the deficit in the series.

“We had the information that the ‘A’ test was positive already on Friday,” Nagornykh stated.

Belov has a chance to be justified if the ‘B’ tests prove otherwise. Any sanctions, including Belov’s suspension from the sport, cannot be imposed until then.

“A commission takes that decision. No one has canceled the presumption of innocence… We can talk about this [ban length] only after Rusada (Russia’s sports doping watchdog) conducts a hearing and an investigation. There are a lot of nuances in this issue.”

Avangard have been involved in the other major doping incident recently. In 2008, the team’s 19-year-old forward Aleksey Cherepanov fell on the ice during a KHL game and never regained consciousness. It was announced that the NHL draft prospect had a previously undetected heart condition.

Later federal investigators declared that Cherepanov had engaged in doping over several months. The incident triggered the suspension of Avangard’s president Konstantin Potapov, general manager Anatoly Bardin and two team doctors.

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