Former IIHF President René Fasel is offering advice to the Kontinental Hockey League ©Getty Images

Former International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) President René Fasel is courting controversy by helping the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in a consultancy role but has denied signing any contract.

The KHL has confirmed that the Swiss official, who served as the head of the IIHF between 1994 and 2021, will work with the league that features 19 Russian teams to help resolve "strategic and developmental issues".

Finnish team Jokerit and Latvian side Dinamo Riga have both quit the league in protest at Russia's invasion of Ukraine, while the National Hockey League has also ended all dealings with the KHL as a consequence.

Fasel’s involvement has courted controversy, but he already had close links to Russia and the country’s President Vladimir Putin.

In a post on Twitter, Finland’s former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, who is vice-president of the European Investment Bank, described Fasel as a "disgrace to the global ice hockey family" and called for the European Union (EU) to add him to its sanctions list.

Speaking to Swiss website Watson, Fasel addressed reports in Russia that he had started working with the KHL.

"There is no contract with the KHL and there will be no contract with the KHL either," said Fasel.

"The KHL is in trouble now.

"What's next?

"Thousands of jobs are at stake.

"Now, when people I've known for decades call and ask for advice, it's okay for me to answer."

Fasel previously suggested before stepping down as IIHF President last year that he could work in Russia.

Fasel led the global governing body for ice hockey for 27 years and was inducted into the IIHF’s Hall of Fame.

Last September, Putin praised the work done by Fasel during his long tenure at the IIHF, hailing him as a "very responsible, knowledgeable, proactive and open person".

Fasel described the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling in December 2020 to ban Russia’s name, flag and anthem from major events for two years as "harsh".

The CAS halved the four-year period of sanctions imposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency as punishment for the manipulation of the Moscow Laboratory data.

All Russian national teams have been suspended by the IIHF ©Getty Images
All Russian national teams have been suspended by the IIHF ©Getty Images

KHL Board of Directors chairman Gennady Timchenko has been sanctioned by both the EU and United Kingdom as part of economic measures announced against Russia.

Timchenko is accused of having close links to Putin.

Timchenko chairs a KHL Board of Directors that includes the organisation’s President Alexei Morozov, while Timchenko is also chair of SKA Saint Petersburg, one of the league's best teams.

The IIHF has suspended Russian national teams from all of its competitions in response to the invasion of Ukraine. 

It also stripped the country of hosting rights for its 2023 World Junior Championship.

Belarus is supporting the military offensive and its teams have also been barred from IIHF events.