Berard shocks Sens

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:50 PM ET

A REPORTER wished Jason Spezza good luck as he went for a drug test under the watchful eye of an International Ice Hockey Federation official yesterday.

"It'd be too late for that now," said Spezza with a wide smile.

Naturally, Spezza, an alternate for Team Canada at the Turin Olympics next month, will pass with flying colours, but there's still a little shock in the Ottawa dressing room after Columbus defenceman Bryan Berard tested positive for steroids.

Berard, 28, wasn't making excuses yesterday after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency confirmed the American defenceman had tested positive for 19-norandrosterone in November.

"No question, I'm embarrassed about it," Berard told reporters in Columbus after the pre-game skate. "There's nothing I can do about it now, other than accepting what I've done. We'll learn from it, it was a mistake and it won't happen again."

Of the 250 tests administered this year on players eligible for Olympic teams, Berard is the only one to test positive, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.

"Any suggestion that Bryan's positive test means that we have some widespread problem in the National Hockey League, I would suggest, is a faulty assumption," said Daly.

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson agrees.

"I think this is an isolated incident. I never said the number was going to be zero, but I would be doubtful it's going to get much higher," said Alfredsson, who will play for Sweden at the Olympics in Turin.

"I don't think the use (of performance-enhancing drugs) is a big problem in our sport. I know we've done testing (for the NHLPA) in the past and the number of positive tests has been very low."

The USADA said in a release that Berard tested positive for the banned substance 19-norandrosterone.

Berard said the steroid was contained in a supplement he took last summer to get ready for the NHL season. He wouldn't say how long he was taking the substance or how much he took.

Senators defenceman Zdeno Chara, meanwhile, says he keeps a close eye on every supplement he takes.

"I look at all the ingredients and I believe it's the responsibility of every athlete to take a scoop from the top, the middle and the bottom of every supplement they're going to take and send it to the lab to make sure it doesn't include any banned substances," said Chara, a member of Team Slovakia for Turin.

"I deal with a lot of cyclists and they get tested all the time and they know what supplements they're allowed to take and the ones they have to avoid. You have to be careful."

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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