Latvian player gets 18-month doping ban

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A Latvian ice hockey player has been banned for 18 months for failing a doping control during the 2014 Winter Olympics, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) said Tuesday.

Vitalijs Pavlovs, 24, tested positive for the banned substance methylhexaneamine after the 2-1 quarter-final defeat to Canada and will be banned until October 30, 2015.

The International Olympic Committee announced last Friday — two months after the Sochi Games ended — that a second Latvian ice hockey player, 23-year-old Ralfs Freibergs, had also failed a drugs test.

He has been provisionally suspended pending a review and will not be competing in the upcoming 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Minsk on May 9-25.

When it came to Pavlovs, the IIHF disciplinary committee deemed that he should be suspended for 18 months instead of the two years required by the World Anti-doping Code.

“Pavlovs acted negligently but without significant negligence in failing to verify the safety of the supplements he was taking,” the organisation said.

The player claimed that he had been taking a Latvian food supplement recommended by his club doctor all season, without knowing specifically what it contained.

“Pavlovs should have taken into account that preparations of the kind he had taken can never be trusted and considered safe, even if the same preparation had not been tested positive at an earlier test,” IIHF said, stressing that “the player had to be aware of that possibility.”

His suspension takes effect on May 1.