For the first time, the Ontario Hockey League has suspended two players for doping violations.
Plymouth Whalers forward Alex Aleardi and Saginaw Spirit defenceman Ryan O’Connor received eight-game bans Friday after the presence of the prohibited stimulant methylhexaneamine was found in urine samples collected in November.
Last fall, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport sent out an advisory note about the substance, often found unmarked in over-the-counter supplements that players sometimes mix into Gatorade to create energy drinks. OHL vice-president Ted Baker said the warning had been passed on to all 20 teams at the time.
Methylhexananeamine is banned on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s 2010-11 prohibited list. It is not an ingredient in Health Canada-licenced medications but found in many fat-burning supplements aimed at body builders.
It’s restricted in New Zealand, where it has shown up as a recreational “party pill.”
“We are completely satisfied that the players used a supplement which they had purchased over the counter at a local retail outlet and had no knowledge that it contained a stimulant,” Canadian Hockey League and OHL commissioner David Branch said.
Aleardi, an 18-year-old from Farmington Hills, Mich., was the first player of the week this season after scoring two hat tricks in his first three games. He has 15 goals and 27 points in 33 games.
O’Connor, 19, from Hamilton, was the sixth overall pick in the 2008 draft by the Barrie Colts. He has two goals and 26 points with a plus-17 rating in 33 games for the first-place Spirit.
Neither player appealed the suspension. The OHL is bound by the CHL’s three-year-old anti-doping policy, which calls for an eight-game sit-down for a first-time infraction.
“The league can’t increase or drop the number of games,” Baker said. “We follow the letter of the policy.”
Baker said with the stimulant available in both Canada and the United States, the fact both players skate for U.S. teams is purely coincidental.
Under its drug policy, the OHL intends to test 38 players during the 2010-11 regular season with 14 more scheduled for the playoffs.
“The message to the players is: Know what you’re putting into your body at all times,” Baker said. “The stimulant wasn’t listed as an ingredient on the label, but you have to be careful because in some of these over-the-counter supplements, there can be derivatives of the substance contained in it and that’s what happened in both these cases.”
Methylhexameamine has been responsible for several violations in multiple sports the last few years.
A Nigerian sprinter was stripped of a gold medal at last year’s Commonwealth Games after the substance was detected.