This week, rumors ran rampant that Russian sports officials had fired and replaced the entire U-18 team headed to the IIHF world championships in Grand Forks, North Dakota, with the nation’s U-17 team (a.k.a. birth year 1999).
Russia replaced the U-18 for reasons/rumors of drugs. All the players tested positive for Meldonium(Quaterine). The performance-enhancing heart medicine that increases blood flow for athletes. It was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned substance list in January. Though 158 athletes were tested and at least 30 have tested positive for the drug. Before all of what has happened, Russia use to give athletes Meldonium openly before the ban a couple moths ago. After the ban, athelets were hit hard without their enhancement drug. Trainers in Russia say it doesn’t enhance their skill. After a recent test, over 700 Russian athletes were found using Meldonium.
The confirmed news about the team was the departure of head coach Vitali Prokhorov first, who was removed of his duty, by the Minister of Sports. Then it was confirmed that the new coach would be Sergei Golubovich. Sergei is bring his U-17 players to play instead of the U-18
It’s here that things get a little Iron Curtian-y. Despite widespread reports about the doping scandal and the complete overhaul of the team’s roster on the eve of the tournament, Russian Hockey Federation officials continued to deny that Meldonium was the factor behind it all.
“This decision is the Russian Hockey Federation, which was agreed with the Ministry of Sports, as well as the tactical decision of the coaching staff. I want to say that the young guys are very eager for the fight, and they want to show themselves at the highest level,” said Russian President Hockey Federation. “I also want to ask journalists not to use rumors and not to speculate on what happened. Let’s look at the actual thing and wish good luck to our team.”
The NHL and NHLPA’s performance-enhancing drug test does not screen for meldonium, but that could change in the offseason. Because who wouldn’t like to see an entire NHL team replaced by, like, its AHL affiliate right before the Stanley Cup Final?