Olympics

International Ice Hockey Federation calls for ethics probe of Russian federation, Rene Fasel

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The International Ice Hockey Federation council has asked an independent ethics board to investigate the Russian Hockey Federation and former IIHF president Rene Fasel over issues related to the war in Ukraine.

The IIHF on Thursday cited Russia’s instructions to the country’s elite hockey league, the KHL, to support the war and both Fasel’s involvement with the country and his comments about the invasion as reasons to open investigations. The board could refer the Russian federation, Fasel or both to the IIHF’s disciplinary committee if the situation warrants.

Fasel, who served as IIHF president from 1994-2021, has since taken a job as an adviser to the KHL, which is regarded as the world’s best hockey league behind the NHL.

The 72-year-old Switzerland native was critical of the IIHF’s decision last month to ban Russia and Belarus from upcoming competitions because of the invasion of Ukraine. In an interview with Russian state media, he called it a « sad moment in IIHF history, » adding the Soviet Union played Canada and the US during the Cold War and saying, « Even in such a tense situation as today, sport must carry the message of peace and united people. »

The IIHF said its ethics code requires current and former presidents to « conduct themselves in accordance with the principles of dignity, integrity, loyalty and responsibility in all relations of a competitive, economic, social [including social media] and moral nature. »

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Fasel has been publicly friendly with Vladimir Putin and been involved with hockey games the Russian president played in. Former IIHF communications director Szymon Szemberg has publicly referred to « Fasel’s shady connections to Putin. »

Reached by text message, Fasel told The Associated Press he had no comment.

The Russian federation earlier this month sent a letter to KHL clubs saying it was mandatory for them to support the efforts in Ukraine, sending pro-war campaign posters that were ordered to be used. The IIHF said Thursday, « Such an action would constitute a violation of the IIHF Ethics Code. »

The IIHF banned teams from Russia and Belarus from all tournaments until further notice. It also revoked Russia’s ability to host the 2023 world junior championship.

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