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Open Letter of Avangard Omsk Fans to KHL Regarding Decision of Disciplinary Committee of KHL to indefinitely suspend management and medical staff of Avangard Omsk Hockey Club
Chairman of Board of Directors of
On January 16, 2009, Press conference devoted to announcement of results of KHL Disciplinary Committee review of investigation materials on circumstances of Alexei Cherepanov’s (player of Avangard Omsk, drafted by New York Rangers in 1st round in 2007 entry draft)) death, took place in the office of Kontinental Hockey League. Decisions made by Disciplinary committee were announced, including indefinite suspension of Konstantin N. Potapov, President of Avangard Omsk Hockey Club; Anatoly F. Bardin, General Manager; Sergey Belkin and Dmitry Batushenko, team doctors. It was reported to public that Alexei Cherepanov suffered from chronic myocarditis during the last twelve to eighteen months of his life. At the same press conference there was an announcement, that in the process of carrying out of the program called “Medical passport of the KHL player”, at least three players currently involved in KHL Championship, were recommended by the league to cease playing hockey – up to disability to engage in this kind of sport – but that in practice KHL can not suspend these players from playing since it is not involved in direct work relationship with them. During the next few days various Russian media (including newspaper “Sport-Express” and TV program “Hockey of Russia” on “RTR-Sport” TV Channel) have published or displayed biased materials (in our opinion), aimed at representation of Avangard Omsk Hockey Club in controversial light, and unproven declaration of level of team personnel guilt in the tragic events that took place, without any possible court decisions announced.
In our opinion, decisions made by Disciplinary Committee of the KHL regarding suspension of Anatoly Bardin, Sergey Belkin and Dmitry Batushenko do not correspond with principles of adequacy of positive measures. In years 2007-2008 Alexei Cherepanov took place in J18 and J20 World Ice Hockey Championships, and went through due medical testing as a player of Team Russia. Annual physical examination (made in medical facility that possesses national license for provision of medical services), made in accordance with Championship by-laws prior to the beginning of 2008-2009 KHL season, hasn’t determined the abovementioned condition for Alexei Cherepanov, and doctors of Avangard Omsk Hockey Club are not professional cardiologists and therefore had no capability to determine the correct diagnosis by themselves. Furthermore, without League’s assistance, no single KHL team could have possibly done organized research of such scale. League’s assistance has followed after the tragic incident, but when the program “Medical Passport of the KHL player” started to give the first results, all of a sudden the harsh punishment was announced against Avangard Omsk officials.
In our opinion, the intention to significantly improve the quality of medical provision in the KHL is undoubtedly good, but it can be carried out without application of the abovementioned punishments to those who look after players’ health in the teams and especially those who are responsible for recruiting of team’s players, coaches and staff. At the same time we believe it is very important to logically complete the medical program of the League. Care of players’ health, as one of the goals of the Program, must be de-facto displayed, and we hope that KHL will not allow the risk to let the players mentioned during the January, 16 press conference to participate in Championship games and be engaged in professional hockey.
As it was declared, main goals of carrying out the Kontinental Hockey League Championship are: development of the game of hockey, its further popularization in Russia and other countries; involvement of kids, teenagers, youth and other social groups in the game of hockey. We believe that achievement of these undoubtedly important and prestigious goals is only possible through targeted development of the game of hockey and its organizational basis, controlling excesses which can lead to decline in the interest to the sport in various regions and in Russia as a whole. League and the professional hockey clubs must unite in development of ambitious hockey project and taking it to the next level on the international hockey.
Based on the above, we kindly request that you reverse the decision of Disciplinary committee of Kontinental Hockey League regarding suspension of Anatoly Bardin, Sergey Belkin and Dmitry Batushenko, allowing them to return to their work in KHL system (in Avangard Omsk Hockey Club) in accordance with the positions they held prior to January 16, 2009. We also kindly request that through the program “Medical Passport of the KHL player”, its provisions apply to all the players of the KHL without any exceptions, including possible amendment of KHL Championship by-laws, and not to allow the health risks related to engagement of players in professional hockey.
As KHL positions itself as an organization, which operates in accordance with requirements of Russian Legislation, we ask that you take into account that it is necessary to explain the legal basis for application of abovementioned punishments in the League system to public and the teams of the KHL. Such a measure would allow objective evaluation of KHL managements’ efforts to avoid possibility of such tragic incidents in the future, as the one that took place on October 13, 2008 and resulted in the death of Avangard Omsk and Team Russia forward, Alexei Cherepanov. We hope that KHL will address its information policies not to allow medias to publish materials, casting shadows on the League’s teams prior to announcement of due court decisions of related cases, and will aim at creating a positive image of the KHL as one of the strongest hockey leagues in the World.
Please sign the open letter if agree.