Leafs given food for thought

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

The Maple Leafs are wary of being caught in the National Hockey League's drug testing net for using what they think to be approved supplements.

Players said yesterday they had been given particular warnings by team medical personnel about health food that could contain substances such as 19-norandrosterone, an anabolic steroid found in Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Bryan Berard's system.

"Over-the-counter stuff can be dangerous, even the labelled stuff," forward Jason Allison said. "Unfortunately, they don't have a good system for protecting those products."

Added forward Matt Stajan, "They've told us not to trust the (ingredients). They come in bulk and they're powdered."

Coach Pat Quinn and those Leafs who played here with Berard from January 1999 to March 2000 say he showed no signs of steroid use.

"He wasn't doing that here, I'm sure of that," forward Darcy Tucker said.

Quinn sympathized with Berard and the damage to his reputation, but said the highly publicized crackdown on drugs in pro and amateur sports should have made an impression long ago.

"There is a lot of education out there and the onus is on the player," Quinn said. "But some stuff, you just don't know what's in it, the same as what you bring home from the grocery store."

In Ottawa, where the Leafs play tonight, at least one Senators player was worried that Berard might not be the only player found guilty when NHL test results filter in next week.

"I have the feeling a couple of guys are going to get nailed," Brian McGrattan said. "It's kind of surprising, though. I think hockey players are the cleanest athletes, but there's still going to be a couple of guys that get nailed. I just hope it's not too many because it will take away from an excellent (game)."

But the majority of Sens backed the league's position that one player who ran afoul of testing did not point to an epidemic.

"I never thought we would be 100% clean," Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "You are always going to have incidents like this. Maybe too much has been made of it. It is a hot topic right now, but I don't think it is a big issue in the sport."

Zdeno Chara, the tallest player in the NHL at 6-foot-9, also was skeptical of wide-spread abuse.

"From 700 players, there could be more, but it is also possible that nobody else tests positive," Chara said.


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