Earlier today the KHL held a press conference to announce the results of their internal investigation into the death of 19-year old Ranger prospect Alexei Cherepanov. In addition to disclosing the disciplinary actions which have been taken against key figures involved in the tragedy, the league revealed that doctors from Cherepanov’s team, Avangard Omsk, were in fact aware of his heart condition and that the banned substance found in his blood by investigators was the team doctors’ attempt at treating his illness.
Nikolai Durmanov, head of the KHL’s medical center:
One of the main questions which faced us was: “Did the doctors know about Cherepanov’s illness?” The Avangard doctors tried to convince us that, no [they did not]. According to them, indisposition [minor illness] is a normal condition for an athlete. We have materials confirming that they knew about Alexei’s illness. Most likely, they did not understand the whole seriousness of his condition — such matters can be resolved only by skilled cardiologists. The doctors of Avangard tried to treat him with their own knowledge. What was called in the press a systematic taking of performance enhancing substances were attempts at treatment.
Sergei Belkin, Avangard’s top doctor, who was removed from his position with the club at the league’s behest late last month, has been banned for life from working within the KHL. Dmitri Batushenko, another Avangard doctor who was previously removed from his position, has received a two-year ban from working with any club in the league.
As previously reported, Mikhail Denisov, director of the hockey team Vityaz, who was responsible for the medical equipment at the arena the night Cherepanov died, has also received a lifetime ban from working within the KHL.
In their December 30th statement the KHL also issued a recommendation that Avangard team President Leonid Potapov and General Manger Anatoli Bardin be asked to step aside pending the conclusion of the KHL Disciplinary Committee’s decision. Earlier this week, Potapov was fired and the position of team president was dissolved completely. As per today’s statement by the KHL, Potapov has also been banned from working within the league in any capacity in the future.
Bardin, who became well-known to Rangers fans as the man who negotiated Jaromir Jagr’s departure to the KHL, had thus far remained in his position as general manager of the club. As of today, he too has been removed from his position and is forbidden from working within the KHL in the future.
KHL Vice President of Hockey Operations Vladimir Shalaev:
We are convinced that the guilty persons have displayed criminal negligence in the performance of their official duties. Our sanctions are severe, but we are assured that the Offices of the Public Prosecutor of the Omsk and Chekhov regions will still pass their own judgments on the proceedings in question. I believe that the guilty will suffer not only sports-related, but also criminal punishment.
Cherepanov would have celebrated his 20th birthday yesterday.
Update: The KHL has sent an English version of the press release linked at the start of this post to North American media outlets. See Puck Daddy for the full text.
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