IIHF says to work to keep 2023 world championship in Russia

Sports

FILE PHOTO: International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) President Rene Fasel answers a question during a news conference at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 18, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) will try to ensure Russia retains the right to host the 2023 world ice hockey championship, IIHF President Rene Fasel said on Thursday.

Russia is banned for four years from hosting or bidding for major sporting events under a ruling announced by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Monday as punishment for having provided it with doctored laboratory data.

The sanctions also bar Russians from competing under their country’s flag at top international sporting events, including the next summer and winter Olympics.

Asked if Russia could still host the 2023 IIHF World Championship in St. Petersburg, Fasel said: “Nothing is sure actually today, but we will work on that and do everything possible that we can to protect our interests and our federation.”

Fasel added that the IIHF was awaiting a decision from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on the sanctions against Russia.

The supervisory board of Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA convenes on December 19 to decide whether to appeal against the sanctions.

“We really hope that it will not be a political decision but that it will be fair and a legal decision that will be made,” Fasel said.

WADA has said that signatories of the World Anti-Doping Code such as the IIHF must move events that fall under that period to another country “unless it is legally or practically impossible to do so.”

Businessman Gennady Timchenko, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who serves as president of Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) club SKA St. Petersburg, said last year that he wanted to build the world’s largest hockey arena to host the tournament.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; editing by Jason Neely

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