By PETER ADLER
Canada’s hockey teams may or may not have an easier time of it at the forthcoming Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, now that Russian President Vladimir Putin waded into the issue of what the Russians describe as International Olympic Committee’s unjustly rough treatment of Russian athletes who had failed the doping tests.
According to President Putin, it’s politics, pure and simple.
A few Russian athletes face lifetime bans following accusations of outright cheating at the 2014 Olympic Games at Sochi, and a few more bans are expected to come down later this week.
Russian sports poohbahs have decided to start fighting back, and now, Russian President decided to have their backs: he has added his few cents’ worth.
While women’s hockey teams may not feel the impact, as Russia still hasn’t reached the level of any medal expectations, Canada’s men’s team chiefs are now scratching their heads.
Team Russia, minus NHL players, would consist mostly of those who ply their trade in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). Its bosses have announced their league would ignore the games if their country’s team is not allowed to play under its own colours.
In fact, they told the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) they are scrapping their original schedule that would have allowed for an Olympic break. The replacement schedule would see the KHL continuing through the duration of the Olympic Games.
And this is where Team Canada comes in: a number of players on Hockey Canada’s radar screen, including their Number One goalie, Ben Scrivens, are currently KHL teams’ employees.
The question, thus far unanswered: will KHL clubs allow their foreign players to take leaves of absence and join their national teams for the duration of the Olympic Games?
Many of these players have out-clauses in their KHL contracts. Except, these clauses kick in only in very specific cases, such as, a certified contract offer from the NHL. Nobody ever thought of negotiating Olympic out-clauses into the deals. Nobody thought the situation would get so far.
Russian President Putin, on campaign trail for the forthcoming (March 2018) elections in his country, accused the U.S. as the power behind the International Olympic Committee’s decisions. He did not name any names, specifically, neither did he speak of any documentary proof. Here’s what he said: “They (the Americans) accuse us of interference in their elections. And now, they are attempting to retaliate.”
Putin also denied his government’s involvement in any doping and …read more
Source:: Edmonton Journal – Sports