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German player Holland ruled ineligible at IIHF World Hockey Championship

HALIFAX - Germany has lost defenceman Jason Holland at the IIHF World Hockey Championship but not its upset victory over Slovakia.

The former Canadian world junior player appeared in the first two games for Germany at this tournament before being deemed ineligible. IIHF rules stipulate that a player must spend four consecutive years in a country's national league before he can play internationally for another country.

Holland, a native of Morinville, Alta., has spent just three years playing for Ingolstadt ERC in Germany.

That fact went unnoticed until the German team discovered the error and reported it to the IIHF. A meeting of the championship directorate was called and it was decided that the team wouldn't have to forfeit the games Holland appeared in because of the "exceptional circumstances" surrounding his case.

Had the Germans forfeited, they would have faced a must-win game against Norway on Wednesday night to avoid the relegation round.

"I'm more than happy with this decision," said German GM Franz Reindl. "It's great the sport has overruled any paperwork."

Holland was unavailable for comment as he was travelling home, according to the team.

It was a strange day all around for the Germans, who also found out that Florian Busch remained eligible to play one day after the World Anti-Doping Agency had requested that he be suspended for refusing a doping test two months ago.

The German Ice Hockey Association cleared Busch to play before the world championship and the IIHF says it is not in a position to interfere with decisions made by its member nations.

The 23-year-old Busch refused a doping test at his home in Berlin on March 6. He was with his girlfriend at the time and was angry that the tester had come to his home.

"He acted impulsively," said German coach Uwe Krupp.

Busch, who plays pro in Germany, soon realized the mistake and successfully passed a test that was taken a few hours after he had refused the first one.

He had a goal and an assist in his first two games for the German team at the world championship. Holland had counted one assist during the event.

The defenceman had inadvertently signed a document saying that he had never played internationally for Canada. Had that been the case, he would only have needed two years in the German league to be eligible to play here.

The team's GM took full responsibility for the mistake.

"It's not Jason's fault," said Reindl. "He thought he was eligible."

The 32-year-old is a former second-round pick of the New York Islanders and was part of the Canadian team that won gold at the 1996 world junior tournament. He played 81 career NHL games before moving to Europe.

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