Drug claim getting Pounded

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:50 PM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Maple Leafs can't swear their National Hockey League brethren are all clean as a whistle when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs.

But they were shocked and insulted to hear World Anti-Doping Agency chairman Dick Pound claim that one-third of their number are on some form of banned substances.

"I can't say anything's 100% clean because, in life, that just doesn't happen," defenceman Ken Klee said yesterday. "But do I think it's 30%? Definitely not. I've played with a lot of guys (in 11 NHL seasons) and maybe a couple of them I'd even consider to be involved in that sort of thing.

"It's ridiculous to come out with a statement that 30% of athletes are on drugs. My kids can read that. I don't think he can name five players he has met personally."

An American, Klee wondered if the Canadian-born Pound was running for the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. Congress and trying to use NHL players to score political points.

When he was asked whether the league can say it is problem-free, Tie Domi pointed to unpublished testing by the NHL Players' Association two years ago.

"We had testing done just to see where we stand," Domi said, referring to a drug test of all NHLers. "I don't think there was a handful of guys (actually less than 1%, according to sources) out of 750 players, so that says a lot about our sport. And who knows if those guys were (actually in violation)?

"So, Dick Pound should keep his comments to himself. For a guy who knows nothing about our sport, who comes from one of the dirtiest of sports (Olympic events), he is trying to drag everyone else's sport down, especially ours. We just came back (from a year-long lockout) and we don't need negative press."

Leafs coach Pat Quinn pointed out that random testing is part of the new collective bargaining agreement. Players can be tested twice yearly without warning, with a first-time offender getting a 20-game suspension, a repeat offender hit with a 60-game sentence and a lifetime ban on the third strike.

"Quite frankly, I don't know where (Pound's) opinion comes from," Quinn said. "As fars as I know, (one third) is a pretty wild guess. I have no first-hand knowledge of anything of that (drug) nature."

Mats Sundin has endured many forms of drug testing skating for Sweden at the world championships and Olympics.

"I've been around 15 years and have not seen or heard of any player taking any drug that was supposed to (enhance) their performance," Sundin said. "Who knows what's out there, but I have a tough time believing those numbers are correct."


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