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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nabokov and Tarasov Ineligible for Olympic Team

San Jose Sharks All-Star goaltender Evgeny Nabokov cannot play for Russia at the 2002 Winter Olympics because he played for his native Kazakhstan at the world junior championships, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) said Thursday.

"The rules are quite simple: if you ever played for one country in any IIHF-sanctioned event, you cannot play for any other country at the world or Olympic competition," IIHF sports director Dave Fitzpatrick said.

Nabokov, who played at the world junior ice hockey championship six years ago, said he wanted to play for Russia after acquiring Russian citizenship a month ago.

But the federation's bylaws mean he will be eligible to play only for Kazakhstan, Fitzpatrick said by telephone from the IIHF's headquarters in Zurich.

"Nabokov is more than welcome to compete for Kazakhstan if he wants to. In fact, he could have played for them in next week's pre-Olympic qualifying tournament if Kazakhstan were not eliminated already."

The 25-year-old rookie goaltender has led the National Hockey League with wins this season and last month was named to play for the World Team in the NHL All-Star game on Feb. 4.

Fitzpatrick said the same ruling also prohibited another Kazakhstan-born goaltender, Vadim Tarasov, from playing for Russia.

Tarasov, who plays for Metallurg Novokuznetsk of the Russian premier league, played for his adopted country at the Baltika Cup tournament in December after receiving Russian citizenship last year.

"Tarasov was able to play for Russia in the Baltika Cup because it wasn't an IIHF-sanctioned competition," Fitzpatrick said. "But he can't do that at the Olympics or the world championships."

The Russians, runners-up at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, have been searching for a proven NHL goaltender for Salt Lake City after two of their most experienced men had troubles on and off the ice.

Mikhail Stalenkov was dropped by the NHL Florida Panthers this season after a loss of form, while former All-Star Nikolai Khabibulin has been sitting out his second NHL season following a salary dispute with Phoenix Coyotes.

The NHL has given permission to their top players to represent their countries at the Salt Lake City Olympics, as was the case in Nagano.