Czech coach Ruzicka resigns amid bribery scandal

Czech Republic’s ice hockey coach Vladimir Ruzicka on Tuesday resigned amid a bribery scandal, blaming a media campaign.

“I’ve decided to stand down following a concerted media campaign directed against me since April,” he explained in a statement released by his lawyer.

“I’ve never done anything illegal and I will continue to defend myself, to clear my name,” he added.

The 52-year-old former Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators center allegedly accepted a bribe worth 500,000 Czech koruna (18,000 euros, $20,000) in the 2012-2013 season when coaching Czech top-flight side Slavia Prague.

In April, two weeks before the world championships in the Czech Republic, media quoted entrepreneur Miroslav Palascak, the father of a Slavia player, as saying he had given Ruzicka the money in cash in two instalments in exchange for a promise his son would stay on the team.

The affair marred the hosts’ build-up to the championships where they finished fourth.

On Tuesday fresh allegations emerged with other parents accusing Ruzicka of asking for money to help their sons’ playing careers.

Ruzicka led the Czech Republic to the 1998 Olympic gold in Nagano as a player and to world titles in 2005 and 2010 as a coach.

Police are investigating the allegations against him.

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