KHL Says It Was Never Made Aware of Artemi Panarin Allegation

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIFebruary 24, 2021

New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) warms up before an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

Russia's Kontinental Hockey League told ESPN's Emily Kaplan it has "not been aware of or received a complaint in relation to any incident involving Artemi Panarin in December 2011" following allegations by a former coach that the New York Rangers star was involved in a physical altercation with a woman a decade ago.

The KHL further stated that it "take[s] any allegations of misconduct incredibly seriously" and would have investigated if it received a complaint. 

Andrei Nazarov, who coached Panarin in the KHL, told a Russian newspaper earlier this week Panarin struck an 18-year-old woman multiple times in 2011, alleging Panarin "sent her to the floor with several powerful blows." Nazarov also alleged local police were paid 40,000 Euros to cover up the case. 

Panarin began an indefinite leave of absence on Feb. 22 after news of Nazarov's comments reached North America. In a statement provided by New York, Panarin "vehemently and unequivocally" denied the story, calling it a fabrication. The Rangers are standing by the winger, calling the story "an intimidation tactic being used against him for being outspoken on recent political events." 

The 29-year-old became one of the most high-profile athletes to speak out against Russian President Vladimir Putin following the jailing of the opposition leader, Alexi Navalny, in January after he returned to Russia following a poison attack. 

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Two of Panarin's teammates in 2011 told Kaplan they weren't aware of any such incident taking place with one calling the entire story a "hoax", but another teammate, Mikhail Ansin, told Russia's Sports-Express an incident took place at a karaoke bar when said Panarin "pushed one girl a little bit" and no charges were brought. Ansin was also skeptical of any payments to police, saying players did not earn that much money.

Kaplan noted that "there has been no corroborating evidence and no court or police records to support Nazarov's allegations, nor has a victim come forward." 

The NHL is currently looking into the allegations.