Despite repeated promises, the Canadian Hockey League has dragged its feet on drug testing.
After vowing to institute a plan in 2004 and repeating that promise at a press conference in 2006, the NHL’s prime talent pipeline has failed to put a plan in place to deal with the most important issue facing sports today — drug use.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has had its own plan in place in 2004. Players in the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League won’t be required to pee in a cup until the 2008-09 season starts in the fall.
Why is the CHL plan taking so long?
“Policies for areas of this importance don’t happen overnight,” CHL president and OHL commissioner David Branch said. “It’s a process. It had to be voted on by our members. The system has to be put in place. There has to be support staff. We’re dealing with young people and we felt the educational component had to be the first step taken, that it was absolutely critical before we move on to the next, which is testing.”
The CHL began discussions of a uniform doping law in 2004 and announced it was entering into an agreement with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport to develop a drug education and anti-doping program in October 2006.
The Quebec league took action quickly after agent Gilles Lupien declared in December 2003 that 40% of Quebec junior players were using drugs.
By November 2004, a policy had been adopted. That first year, the QMJHL conducted 40 tests and had one came back positive. It resulted in a suspension for 10 playoff games.