The International Ice Hockey Federation's disciplinary board issued a one-year suspension to Andri Denyskin on Tuesday, five months after he directed a racist gesture to Jalen Smereck in a Ukrainian Hockey League game.
The suspension will bar Denyskin from all IIHF-sanctioned events and all international competition for the next year.
“Racist gestures, comments or actions have absolutely no place in the game of ice hockey, or anywhere, for that matter,” IIHF president Luc Tardif said. “Denyskin’s actions are completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated. While he has already served the suspension of thirteen games from his club team’s league play, the Deciding Panel has determined that a further period of suspension is required.”
The 23-year-old was ejected from a game in September after taunting Smereck, who is Black, by mimicking peeling a banana and eating it. The Ukrainian Hockey League suspended Denyskin for the league maximum of 13 games in the following days.
"During a hearing with the Deciding Panel, Denyskin immediately acknowledged that his actions were wrong and stated that he apologized personally to Smereck and repeatedly throughout the disciplinary processes," the IIHF wrote in their release Monday. "There is no question in this case that the gesture in question was racist, and Denyskin has admitted that throughout all of the proceedings. Denyskin indicated that as soon as the game was over, he had gone to the dressing room of HC Donbass and apologized to Jalen Smereck, and they shook hands."
Smereck left the Ukrainian Hockey League after the incident and is currently playing with the Bietigheim Steelers of Germany's DEL.