Hockey Canada is backing senior vice-president of national teams Scott Salmond after his suspension for an anti-doping rule violation was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Salmond was banned one year by the International Ice Hockey Federation's independent disciplinary board when it concluded he prevented a doping control officer from collecting a urine sample from a Canadian player in December 2017 at the Channel One Cup in Moscow.

The six-country tournament was part of Canada's preparations for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics — the first Games since 1994 not to feature NHL players.

"We take the issue of doping very seriously, and as a world leader in sport we value and are committed to the standards of clean and ethical sport," Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney and president COO/Scott Smith said in a joint statement Tuesday. "We do not condone doping in any way. However, we do take the protection and integrity of our players, both on Canadian soil and overseas, very seriously.

"Throughout the disciplinary and appeal process, Hockey Canada has fully supported the actions taken by Scott Salmond to protect the best interests and safety of (the Canadian player) at the Channel One Cup in December 2017, and his decision to pursue an appeal of the original IIHF decision.

"Hockey Canada disagrees with the charge and subsequent conclusions by the CAS, but we have and will continue to honour the sanction."

In a statement released late last week, the IIHF said Salmond appealed the one-year suspension to the CAS. The World Anti-Doping Agency, meanwhile, also appealed the one-year suspension, arguing the ban should be two years, in accordance with its code.

The CAS rejected Salmond's appeal and agreed with WADA, meaning the Creston, B.C., native will continue to be ineligible for all hockey activity until May 31.

The IIHF president Rene Fasel said in his organization's statement that Salmond's suspension wasn't announced prior to the CAS findings because of the case's "unique nature."

"The IIHF did not expect, however, that the reasoned appellate decision would take such a lengthy amount of time to be obtained," Fasel said. "Nevertheless, we agree with the decision.

"In order to combat doping in sport, it is imperative that all stakeholders, from players to coaches to officials, support and show the utmost respect and co-operation for the anti-doping measures that have been put in place by the IIHF and WADA."

The IIHF disciplinary board determined Salmond's "intervention and his strict orders to the player established compelling justification according to (WADA) code article 2.3 for the player not to submit to sample collection and that, therefore, the player had not violated code article 2.3."

But in its decision, the IIHF disciplinary board said that didn't prevent the sanctioning of Salmond.

Article 2.9 of the WADA code states "assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, conspiring, covering up or any other type of intentional complicity involving an anti-doping rule violation ... by another person constitutes an anti-doping rule violation."

Hockey Canada says Salmond had the option to appeal the CAS ruling, but adds he won't go down that road.

"We respect his decision to forego that option in an effort to put the matter behind him and to focus on his return to work in the near future without further distractions," the statement from Renney and Smith continued. "The entire process has been difficult on Scott and his family, as well as the Hockey Canada family, but he has maintained and respected the sanction as laid out.

"Scott and Hockey Canada have come to terms with the sanction and we look forward to welcoming him back to work as of June 1, 2020."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2020.


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