Sunday, 28 April 2019

Bob Hartley: International Rule-Breaker

I don't normally look for crazy international stories on the weekend when I'm trying to relax, but this one has all sorts of intrigue mixed into it. Bob Hartley, pictured to the left coaching Latvia, is the current head coach of Avangard Omsk in the KHL. His team went on a nice run before running into the CSKA juggernaut in the Gagarin Cup Final that ended Avangard's season. For a team that has arena problems, being the second-best KHL team this season only bodes well for the future. Or so it seemed, at least, until RUSADA and Russian drug testing got involved because Bob Hartley is reportedly facing a four-year suspension from the KHL and possibly international hockey after it was alleged that he interfered with a drug test intended for one of the Avangard players.

I'll say this upfront: everyone here is innocent until proven guilty. Bob Hartley's actions, if any, have yet to be confirmed by anyone, and Avangard Omsk is stating that the report is "a blatant lie". RUSADA, for what it's worth, doesn't have a shining reputation of any sort following their actions in being complicit in the drug cheating that happened at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, so get yourself a few grains of salt as you read through the next few paragraphs.

Here's where the matter surfaced.
Aivis Kalniņš is a respected reporter who covers a lot of KHL news, so I have no reason to doubt the veracity of his reporting in this case. He continues,
And he added,
In a nutshell, it sounds like there will be an investigation into whether Bob Hartley was involved in this infraction, and, if he was, he'll likely be punished by the KHL and the IIHF for his involvement. If Avangard is playing this off as "just a misunderstanding," it sounds like there might be some truth to RUSADA's report regarding Hartley's involvement in whatever happened. Either way, there's likely a lot more that hasn't been said about what went down than what has been said.

Other than what Aivis Kalniņš has tweeted, not much more information has been released today. Hartley, with the Gagarin Cup awarded to CSKA, has moved on to Latvia where he'll coach the nation's team at the 2019 IIHF World Hockey Championship in Slovakia while things are sorted out in the KHL. Latvia's first game is against Austria on Saturday, May 11 at Ondrej Nepala Arena in Bratislava followed by a game against Switzerland on Sunday. Let's just hope that this won't be a distraction for Hartley because the Latvians will need some solid coaching if they hope to make some noise in this tournament.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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