Dick Pound, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, made comments suggesting that 30% of NHL players were using some sort of a performance enchnacing substance. Pound's agency oversees anti-doping rules for amateur athletics at the Olympic level and he was speaking with the press after an engagement at the University of Western, in London, Ontario. He said, "I spoke with Gary (NHL commissioner Gary Bettman) and he said 'We don't have the problem in hockey … I told him he does. You wouldn't be far wrong if you said a third (of hockey players are gaining some pharmaceutical assistance).''
Both the NHL and the NHLPA have been quick to react to these comments, chiding Pound for making such "irresponsible statements" without access to the facts. "Dick Pound's comments are incredibly irresponsible and have no basis in fact. He has no knowledge of our sport and our players and frankly has no business making such comments," said Ted Saskin, current head of the NHL Players Association. Meanshile NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was just as dismissive when he commented, "I would respectfully suggest that Mr. Pound's comments have absolutely no basis in fact. I find it troubling, to say the least, that he would find it necessary to comment on something he has absolutely no knowledge of."
One does have to wonder about the facts behind Dick Pound's comments. He takes the doping stuff very seriously and has long been an advocate of ridding sports of steroirds and other performance enhancing drugs. With NHL players participating in the Turin Winter Olympics, these players are already subject to WAPDA's drug testing regimen. So either Pound has inside information on some bombshells that may drop, or he is being irresponsible. Having said that, no one should be naive enough to believe that the NHL players are all clean. With the monetary stakes where they are, hockey players are no different than those of other sports and are going to seek an edge. It has long been known that amphetamines like ephedrine
are part of the game. They used to be quite popular in the form of the common decongestant Sudafed.
As part of its latest CBA, the NHL has proposed a tough drug policy which includes severe suspensions, education about steroid side effects
and rehab help. NHL players are subject to up to two, no-notice, random tests during the NHL season for the performance enhancing drugs designated on the Word Anti-Doping Agency out-of-competition list. Positive tests will result in a 20 game suspension for the first offence; 60 game suspension for the second offence and a permanent suspension for the third offence (with an appeal after 2 years).
Dick Pound was interviewed on a local Toronto sports radio station (Fan590) yesterday. He was asked what proof he had of performance enhancing drugs being common amongst NHL players. His reponse was that he had anecdotal proof from data collected from team doctors, trainers, coaches, etc that led to his view that 30% of NHL players were using some sort of a performance enhancing substance. He also clarified that this doesn't mean they are all doing steroids and that stimulants were a large part of the problem.