The Kontinental Hockey League's (KHL) investigation into the death of New York Rangers prospect Alexei Cherepanov has entered the penalty phase, and the league has gotten busy kicking tail and taking names. According to the league's North American public relations firm, the following suspensions were announced at a press conference in Moscow earlier today:
-- Konstantin Potapov, former President of HC Avangard, Sergei Belkin, currently a doctor of HC Avangard and Mikhail Denisov, formerly Director of HC Vityaz have all been suspended from the KHL and denied the right to occupy any position with any league clubs indefinitely;
--Anatoly Bardin, formerly General Manager of HC Avangard, has been suspended and indefinitely denied the right to occupy any position in any club of the KHL, perform management functions in any club or in the structure of KHL;
--Dmitry Batushenko currently a doctor of HC Avangard, has been also been suspended, though he'll be able to obtain a job with a KHL member club again after two years.
Then again, he might not be able to take any job, because he may very well be behind bars by then.
If the league's top officials are to be believed, then the five men named today could very well be facing criminal sanctions, something that has been hinted at before. Here's Vladimir Shalaev, Chairman of the league's disciplinary committee:
The disciplinary committee approached the individual guilt of each participant differently. We are convinced that the ... participants exhibited criminal negligence in the performance of their duties. Our sanctions are harsh, but we are confident that prosecutors in both the Omsk region and Chekhov district will also make their decision regarding this case. I believe that those responsible will receive not only sanctions regarding their future participation in sports, but that they will also be indicted on criminal charges.
In addition, Nikolai Durmanov, the KHL's medical chief, made the following statement concerning initial reports that Cherepanov had engaged in blood doping:
One of the major issues confronting us was whether the team doctors knew about Cherepanov's disease. The team doctors of Avangard say that they did not know that Cherepanov had a serious heart condition. According to these doctors it is normal for professional athletes to feel unhealthy. However, we have facts, which indicate that they knew about Alexei's disease. Most likely, they did not comprehend the full seriousness of his condition, as such conditions should only be treated by experienced cardiologists. The team doctors of Avangard tried to treat Alexei on their own. What the press described as systematic doping, was an attempt to cure Alexei's heart condition.
So has the KHL gone far enough? Truth be told, it's almost impossible to tell. It was only a few months ago that hockey observers like me thought that the KHL could eventually constitute a genuine threat to the NHL's position at the top of the professional hockey world. Now, just a few months later, Cherepanov's death and the global credit crisis have left the league's credibility in absolute tatters.
KHL Hands Out Suspensions in Alexei Cherapanov Case originally appeared on NHL Main on Fri, 16 Jan 2009 14:40:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.