Kuznetsov won’t appeal three-game NHL suspension after positive cocaine test

The NHL suspended Washington Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov without pay for three regular-season games for “inappropriate conduct,” less than a month after he was banned from playing for Russia for four years because of a positive test for cocaine.

“I have decided to accept the NHL’s suspension today. I am once again sorry that I have disappointed my family, my teammates, and the Capitals organization and fans,” Kuznetsov said in a statement issued by the Capitals.

Kuznetsov and union representatives met with commissioner Gary Bettman in New York on Monday. The league did not elaborate on Saturday’s decision.

“I promise to do everything in my power to win you back with my actions both on and off the ice,” Kuznetsov said. “I also understand that I am fortunate to have an opportunity to make things right. Thanks to the Capitals, NHL, and NHLPA, I have taken many steps in the right direction and I’m confident that I will continue on that path.”

A key part of Washington’s run to the Stanley Cup in 2018, he tested positive while playing for Russia at the world championship in May. He faced allegations of drug use at the worlds after a video posted on social media showed him near a table with lines of white powder and American dollar bills.

When the earlier four-year ban was announced by the International Ice Hockey Federation, the NHL said Kuznetsov would undergo regular drug testing and he voluntarily entered the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program. Teammates expressed support as the Capitals opened camp this past week.

“He realizes he makes mistake,” captain and fellow Russian Alex Ovechkin said. “Sometimes the best thing is just, support him and be at his side.”

Washington visits defending champion St. Louis in the season opener on Oct. 2.

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