Italian volleyball player Jiri Kovar has been temporarily suspended for failing a doping test in May while awaiting a hearing in front of Italy’s national doping authority NADO. Kovar plays for the Italian runners-up and European silver-medalists Cucine Lube Civitanova.
He tested positive for THC, which is a metabolite and main psychoactive substance found in cannabis (marijuana).
The organization announced the failed test on Wednesday, saying that he tested positive during a May 6th match with Sir Safety Perugia. That match was the final match of the 5-match Italian SuperLega Playoff final, which Perugia won in a 3-0 sweep to claim their first-ever Italian Championship. Kovar started and played all 3 sets of that game, scoring 14 points (2nd-best on the team), hitting 65% with just 1 error, and serving as the team’s primary receiver with 32% positive reception.
Kovar continued to play in the Champions League Final 4 with Lube, though in more of a reserve role – he scored 1 point in the team’s semi-final win over Zaksa and 2 in their finals loss to Zenit Kazan, though he participated in all-but-one set of the tournament.
Kovar, a 29-year old, 6’8″ (202cm) outside hitter, has played with Lube since 2011, and has been a part of 3 Italian Championship teams (2012, 2014, 2017). He has also played as part of the Italian National Team, including at the 2014 World Championships. He won silver with Italy at the 2013 European Championship and bronze in the 2014 World League.
Lube released a statement that read, translated to English: We regret to inform you that from the anti-doping office we have received information about the positive result of a doping test that Jiri Kovar underwent. THC Metabolite was detected in his body. Until we learn more detailed information, we will not comment on the matter.
A first-time failed doping test, if no mitigating circumstances are discovered, can result in a ban of up to 4 years. However, in the most recent case in volleyball, Bulgarian National Teamer Spas Bayrev, without much in the way of a mitigating circumstance, was given only a 1-year ban for testing positive for marijuana last year.
Because Kovar was the only player to test positive, Lube’s team results are not in jeopardy.