Knights face drug testing

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

The Canadian Hockey League will begin testing its players for illegal substances.

The announcement will be be made tomorrow in Toronto by all three major junior leagues -- the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League -- as well as the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports (CCES).

It doesn't come as a surprise to some London Knights players.

"We were told earlier this year it was coming," forward Pat Kane said yesterday. "It's supposed to start in January."

OHL commissioner David Branch wouldn't comment on the plan, indicating all the information will be forthcoming at the news conference.

"We have been working with the CCES and the Quebec league in evaluating the program put in place in Quebec (2 1/2 years ago)," said WHL commissioner Ron Robison.

"We're putting together educational material for the players in anticipation of starting testing later this season."

Kane has been tested before as a member of the United States national development program. He's isn't bothered by having to go through it.

"It's not that big of a deal," he said. "I never seen anyone do anything. People have to be smart (about what goes into their bodies) and not do anything stupid."

Knights forward Matt Clarke said drug testing is a good thing.

"It's no problem if they want to test. It's good. They may catch a loose cannon and that's good because it will be the same for everyone and make it a level playing field if anyone is taking anything," Clarke said.

He said he's never seen anyone take anything they aren't supposed to, although there's always "rumours that someone's doing something."

"You hear about stuff. You hope it isn't true, but that's what's good about the testing program. If anyone is doing anything, they'll get caught."

Clarity and education will be key, said Knights coach Dale Hunter. While everyone knows such things as steroids, narcotics and recreational drugs aren't allowed, it might not be so clear with component drugs -- things one might find in products such as cough medicine or pain medication.

"You need to be clear what is what," Hunter said. "You need to make sure you know for sure what might be in something you're taking."

The list of banned substances will include such things as narcotics, stimulants, anabolic steroids, masking agents and cannabinoids (hashish, marijuana).

The Quebec league has had one positive drug test in its 2 1/2 years. It detected the stimulant ephedrine. A first-time offence in the league brings a suspension of five to 10 games, a second offence 25 games and a third offence a two-year suspension.

The Quebec league's policy indicates a player is responsible for what he uses with an emphasis on the player to know what's banned.

The list of banned substances will be provided by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Quebec hockey takes it one step further, testing midget AAA players since March 2004

CHL testing will be random and done right after games. The players can be tested from the preseason through the playoffs.


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