Stick tap to Steve House for encouraging me to start this series.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer like an abnormally large amount of this community seem to be (looking at you c6). I am also not an expert.
The point of this series is to look at a few interesting parts of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and dissect them.
Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) have been a hot topic in sports for quite some time. Mark McGwire came clean, Sammy Sosa tested positive, this large list of football players were suspended, and recently, Tony Bosch will be testifying against approximately 20 players, two of which are Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun. Notice something that is missing from this short list? A hockey player.
Turns out, it has happened. Early in 2006 Bryan Berard became the first NHL player to test positive for an anabolic steroid. However, Berard was not suspended because the NHL did not administer the test. Instead, he was suspended from playing hockey at an international level for two years. Sean Hill was suspended for 20 games on April 20, 2007 for violating the PED policy. He became the first NHL player to be suspended for the use of performance enhancing drugs by the NHL. Internationally, Robin Rahm tested positive in July of 2010 while playing for Farjestads BK in the SEL and was suspended for two years from all professional ice hockey. These are the only instances that I have found that involve professional ice hockey players and steroids. I'm sure there are more, but probably in the lower leagues. Let's take a look at what the sanctions are for testing positive for PEDs.
Per Article 47 in the CBA, the NHL is required to provide players with a list of prohibited substances. Each Club is tested team-wide and with no-notice once at random during training camp and once at random during the regular season. While testing, the NHL also tests for drugs of abuse (marijuana, etc.) but this won't be covered in this article. Below are the sanctions for testing positive for PEDs.
(a) Positive tests for performance enhancing substances on the Prohibited Substances
List will result in mandatory discipline as follows:
(i) for the first positive test, a suspension of twenty (20) NHL Games without
pay, and mandatory referral to the SABH Program for evaluation and
(ii) for the second positive test, a suspension of sixty (60) NHL Games
without pay, and mandatory referral to the SABH Program for evaluation
and possible treatment;
(iii) for the third positive test, a "permanent" suspension, although a Player so
suspended can reapply for discretionary reinstatement after a minimum
period of two (2) years by making an application to the Program
TLDR version: First positive test is a 20 game suspension, second is 60 games, third is 2 years (all without pay). Let's take a look at what the other league's sanctions are for comparison.
The NFL policy seems to be a bit harder to find but from what I can see the first offense gets 4 games, second is a year and third isn't outlined.
The MLB policy is first offense = 50 games, second = 100 and third is a lifetime ban.
All three of these PED policies seem to be equally as harsh.
Oak's Take: Honestly, because we see so few hockey players test positive, I had no idea what the sanctions were, but I'm glad it seems to be something that the NHL takes seriously. The NHL has been on the rise in the recent years and I'd hate for something like PEDs to move the game back down a notch.
I'll probably do more of these if it's something people are interested in. Let me know what else you'd like to know about the CBA and I'll see what I can do. For those of you that wish to read the CBA and have spare time to read 540 pages of c6 jargon, it can be found here.
Side note, a super interesting article about newer fads in PED use: Adderall and Viagra for the cool kids