WINNIPEG - Hearing Jordan Matechuk had been arrested for steroid and marijuana possession was surprising enough for Chris Cvetkovic.
But when he learned the former Winnipeg Rifles linebacker and Blue Bomber long snapping hopeful was allegedly in possession of 543 anabolic steroid pills, he was downright shocked.
“I’m not very familiar with steroids, so I don’t know if that’s for one person or it’s for many people,” the Bombers long snapper said. “All in all, it’s a shock. Most of us that actually played with Jordan or knew Jordan were all like, ‘Wow, that’s crazy.’ ”
Matechuk, who played for the Rifles in 2005 and 2006, was arrested May 31 at the Canada-U.S. border in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., for having 543 steroid pills, 262 millilitres of steroids in liquid form, 1.25 grams of marijuana, 19 syringes and 51 replacement needles.
The 25-year-old was on his way to Hamilton Tiger-Cats training camp. He spent the last 21/2 seasons with the Tabbies, primarily as their long snapper.
Matechuk reportedly posted bail on June 2 and participated in the first few days of Ticats training camp, but Hamilton cut him Tuesday night after learning of his legal trouble and also because he didn’t tell them about it in the first place.
“The Hamilton Tiger-Cats vehemently oppose the use of performance enhancing drugs,” head coach Marcel Bellefeuille said in a statement. “They are a serious threat to the health of athletes and the integrity of sport.”
A warrant was issued for Matechuk’s arrest on Monday because he failed to report to a court-ordered status conference in Michigan’s Chippewa County. He faces up to four years in prison.
Rifles GM Gord Cooke was also shocked to learn of Matechuk’s arrest. He said there were never any signs Matechuk used steroids when he played in Winnipeg.
“If we suspect something with a player, we have an intervention and talk with them,” Cooke said. “He was a good player with us. He was a good linebacker.”
While he was an elite linebacker at the junior level, it was his long snapping skills that got him a tryout with the Bombers. Cvetkovic taught Matechuk everything he knew when he was with the Rifles and then watched him come into Bomber training camp and try to steal his job in both 2007 and 2008.
“I knew him when he was with the Rifles, and he was just a hard-working young guy,” Cvetkovic said. “And then when he was with us he was a hard-working young guy. He was a pretty quiet guy.”
The CFL is testing players for banned substances for the first time this year, but Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice doesn’t believe they are rampant in the three-down loop.
“It’s not something I see as a problem,” LaPolice said.