Integrity lesson before hitting the ice
by Martin Merk|09 AUG 2022
Each of the ten participating teams takes part in a mandatory integrity workshop prior to the start of the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship.
photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
Prior to the first puck drop at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship, before they get out on the ice, all the participating teams also have to spend some time in their meeting rooms.

Mostly they see their coaches there and watch video sessions during the tournament to improve their game and analyze their opponents. However, before the first puck was dropped in Edmonton, each team came to the room to hear a presentation from the IIHF.

During the past few years the International Ice Hockey Federation has run mandatory integrity workshops at various events each season. These workshops are run with a particular focus on junior players at IIHF competitions and IIHF-run camps; with the objective to help these young men and women learn important life lessons before they embark on their next journey of their ice hockey careers.

Integrity knowledge is built on the four pillars anti-doping, competition manipulation, abuse & harassment and ethical conduct.

While one session cannot make everybody an expert in these topics in a short time, the session that each team got from IIHF Legal Director Ashley Ehlert was to create awareness about what is wrong, what can go wrong and send the message to speak out if players are confronted with integrity issues with reporting tools available at various levels in sports.

The participants learned about six forms of abuse and harassment during the session:
  • Psychological abuse such as verbal abuse or humiliation
  • Physical abuse such as incidents in training or forced activities including ceremonies for rookies involving activity that a player does not want to take part in
  • Racism and discrimination on the base of, including but not exclusively, race, origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political believes or appearance
  • Sexual harassment whether it’s physical, verbal or non-verbal
  • Sexual abuse which includes non-consent or cases where consent is manipulated or coerced
  • Neglect – the failure to provide a minimum level of care
The message to the players: prevent it, report it – and don’t do it yourself. As a player you decide what is okay for you and your body but you also decide how to treat others.

Suspensions in ice hockey are possible up to a lifetime ban on the IIHF and ice hockey side but also criminal investigations that can lead to fines and/or prison. While it should not happen that a player lands on the side of a perpetrator, the workshop participants were shown headlines from the media about cases of sexual abuse, racism and domestic violence that led to investigations by authorities in and outside of ice hockey. Players were encouraged to discuss in a confidential, open forum any questions surrounding current issues within abuse and harassment in sports, and were active participants in what is a serious and vital part of the IIHF’s integrity workshops.

Competition manipulation was another topic where participants soaked in the information and used the opportunity to ask questions. Match-fixing kills competitions, the spirit of sports, discredits and disrespects the sport and team. This can include betting on own games, underperformance for money but also for sporting reasons, for example to get another opponent in the final round. Concerning betting the IIHF rule is that ice hockey players cannot bet in any ice hockey game. Participants at Olympic Games or other multi-sports events may not bet on any competition of the event even outside their sport.

Players learned about topics like these but also more subtle forms of manipulation. Inside information such as tactics or injuries should always stay private.

€1 billion of bets are placed in ice hockey every year. During the recent Winter Olympics ice hockey was by far the sport with most bets. While the existence of betting in itself is not inherently bad – through governmental programs, advertisement and sponsorship it can even bring money back into the sport programs – competition manipulation is.

Case studies were shown such as the example of former Danish national team player Kirill Starkov and several players in the Belarusian championship and also the consequences: police investigations, fines, risk of prison and a global ban from ice hockey. The experiences they went through can end one’s career in sports.

The participants also learned that players are not only obliged to say “no” if they are approached for competition manipulation but also report any suspicious behaviour for example to their club, league, national association, IIHF or the IOC who provide possibilities to report online for example by contacting [email protected].
Kirill Starkov on Integrity in hockey
Former Danish national team player Kirill Starkov talks about integrity in hockey after bad experiences.
11 AUG 2020
Anti-doping is another topic the IIHF has been educating athletes in its competitions and camps for many years. The IIHF protects clean athletes, needs to ensure that every player is clean and will perform doping tests also here in Edmonton.

The players learned about the dangers of the use or attempt to use prohibited substances but also other scenarios that can lead to suspension such as refusing to submit a sample and the possession of a prohibited substance. They also learned that  unintentional intake can lead to suspensions. It’s the responsibility of the athlete to know what they are taking even if they get a substance from team staff and they can always find the most up-to-date prohibited list on the website of the IIHF or the World Anti-Doping Agency WADA.

The players also learned to take care of therapeutical use exemptions if such are needed for medical reasons at least 30 days before a competition, about the process of a doping control at an IIHF event and the players’ rights.

Ice hockey is a sport of skill, physicality, team play and tactics. It’s certainly not performance-enhancing drugs that will make a player shine on the ice or help their team win. While ice hockey may not be in the spotlight when it comes to doping cases, the intentional or unintentional use of prohibited substances has happened including at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Not only can prohibited substances be harmful to your body but getting caught causes shame, a suspension of up to four years or even a lifetime ban from ice hockey.
Green Puck
The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) believes in the true spirit of sports and rejects any use of doping and drugs. This message is underlined in the campaign in co-operation with the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA). "Doping is not hockey" and "doping is offside" are the slogans written on the green pucks that were used for warm-ups and that are supported by prominent players and other hockey personalities.
05 JUN 2021
Lastly the teams learned about ethical behaviour and examples where the IIHF Code of Ethics can concern teams such as a team that was kicked off a plane due to drunkenness and disruptive behaviour but examples can also include criminal behaviour such as vandalizing in a hotel, at a hockey facility or theft.

Do you want to know more about these topics? The IIHF provides online and downloadable material in the Integrity Hub and the possibility to report issues.