Positive tests will come back negative

SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

Baseball burried its head in the sand.

The NFL also turned a blind eye for years.

The Canadian Hockey League has chosen a different path when it comes to drug testing.

The CHL has instituted a random drug-testing program that will begin this week in the WHL, said commissioner Ron Robison

"The testing will begin any day now," Robison said. "We've given the green light to the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, which will be administering the testing.

"It will be done on a random basis for all 60 teams in the Canadian Hockey League."

But while drug use was rampant in and the NFL just a few years ago, Robison doesn't expect to see many -- if any -- positive tests in the WHL.

"We've focused on education with our players," Robison said. "We wanted to make sure they understood what they were getting into as far as the banned substances are concerned.

"We certainly don't envision any difficulty because our clubs are monitoring the players.

"We're not going into this program because we think we have a problem. But until you go through the testing process, you don't know."

Positive tests will be made public and will result in five- to 10-game suspensions (depending on the substance) for first-time offenders.

A second positive test carries a 25-game ban and a third carries a two-year suspension.

Testing officials will show up prior to a game and randomly select players to provide a urine sample.

The urine will be tested for steroids, narcotics and every other substance found on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list.

Portland Winter Hawks forward Tayler Jordan doesn't think the testing process will reveal many cheats.

"I don't think anyone here is worried about it," Jordan told The Oregonian.

"But you never know what guys are doing or what they're taking.

"With this, now everyone in the league will know who's doing what and we'll all be on the same page."

While few expect steroids or recreational drugs to be an issue, supplements or cold medications could result in a positive test.

A few years back, there were rumours circulating about widespread use of ephedrine among NHL players.

Ephedrine, which can be found in cold medications, is on the banned list.

"It'll be the same testing parameters as any Olympics or international sports," Robison says.

"That's why we spent a considerable amount of time going through the educational process with the players."

Every player had to take an online drug education course in the past two months.

They're aware of what supplements have been okayed and which ones to avoid.

Winter Hawks goaltender Kurtis Mucha, whose club has won three of its past four games, said he'll drink the odd protein shake.

But he won't touch anything that could be on the banned list.

"The biggest stuff we'll take is protein supplements to help rebuild our muscles," the Sherwood Park product told The Oregonian. "That's about it.

"But the pros don't outweigh the cons. If you get suspended and you're a guy trying to make it to the pro ranks, you're not going to want that hanging over you head.

"So it's not worth it."

The league's drug education program has also shown the players which supplements to use.

"When you look at the game today and how its changed, hockey players are training 12 months a year," Robison said.

"They're looking to get bigger, stronger, faster.

"We want to make sure that, while they're going through that training process and playing in the league, they understand the risks associated with supplements."


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