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From The Ice

NWHL players included in reported Russian doping scandal

Katia Smolentseva takes a shot during warmups at NWHL New York Riveters at Connecticut Whale - Ingalls Rink. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kaitlin S. Cimini
Photo Credit: Kaitlin S. Cimini

Per a report by the New York Times, who interviewed former director of the Russian antidoping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, dozens of Russian athletes were involved in a secret doping program that was put in place to earn Russia as many gold medals as possible during the 2014 Sochi Games. Two NWHL players may be among them.

The performance-enhancing drugs were administered via a PED-and-liquor coctail, Rodchenkov said, and he was given a spreadsheet of athletes involved in the program and the serial number of the bottle that contained the contaminated urine sample. According to Rodchenkov he was supposed to swap urine when an athlete involved in the program earned a medal. The urine was swapped out of supposedly tamper-proof bottles, which were opened by a third party Rodchenkov believed to be a Russian intelligence officer.

The entire Russian women’s ice hockey team numbers among those doping, Rodchenkov said, noting that not all players who doped earned a spot on the podium. The team took sixth among women’s ice hockey Olympic teams, with the U.S. and Canada competing for the gold medal spot.

NWHL Connecticut Whale forward, Katia Smolentseva, was on the roster for the team and along with her was Whale practice player Katia Pashkevich, who played only one game with Connecticut. Neither player was specifically named in the report.

The Times wrote,

Efforts to reach these athletes and others through their sports federations in Russia were unsuccessful. Several of the federations replied and denied any wrongdoing by their athletes. A spokesperson for the Russian Bobsled Federation said that all of its athletes “underwent doping control procedures in accordance to the rules.”

“All of them were clean and not one positive result was found.”

Today’s Slapshot has reached out to the NWHL and Smolentseva for comment on the story. The NWHL responded with the following statement:

“The NWHL prohibits all substances listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s 2015 Prohibited List. We have appropriate policies in place for random testing, as well as in cases where there is reasonable suspicion a player has used a banned substance. Outside of the announcement of disciplinary procedures, testing results are kept confidential.”

The league would not confirm or deny if it had been given cause to test a player for PEDs outside of normal random testing patterns. Regardless, no discipline has been levied against players for PED use.

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