Dick Pound, who is the former boss of the World Anti-Doping Agency and now a board member of the organization, said a couple of years ago that one out of three NHL players was taking some type of illegal substances. However, he never backed it up with any proof. Two years later he still feels the same way even thought the league has introduced a new drug testing policy. Pound said it’s better than nothing, but still falls well short of the mark.
He said the NHL’s testing was never made public which makes it hard to tell exactly what’s going on and if it’s effective or serious at all. He said the league wasn’t taking drug use seriously in the past and expressed amazement at a statement made by Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, who said there aren’t any types of banned substances that would benefit a hockey player. Bettman said there’s no point testing the players since they don’t take anything to enhance their performances.
Pound said it’s unlikely that the NHL will catch anybody cheating since the measures of the testing aren’t stringent enough. But Pound said the NHL isn’t the only North American league that doesn’t take banned substances seriously enough. He said most of the continent’s pro sports leagues are the same in their outlook and approach to the problem.
Pound said that one of the major reasons the NHL doesn’t find players breaking the rules is because the league only does its testing during the season and forgets about it in the off season. This way players can use substances in the summer and it’s out of their systems by the time the season faces off. He added that the NHL doesn’t even test its players for stimulants even though this is their substance of choice.
Former NHL player Georges Laraque agrees with Pound and said in his recent book that performance-enhancing drugs are quite common in the NHL. He feels the hockey league doesn’t want to catch its players taking drugs because it might result in a long line of the league’s stars being suspended and that won’t help sell the game. Players unions are also a big problem according to Pound because they usually fight against drug testing for some unknown reason.
When it comes to other pro sports, Pound said he believes that golf is the cleanest of them all due to its code of behavior. He said basketball has so many other problems at the moment which pushes substance abuse down the list. He feels baseball’s on the right track, but they don’t test for enough substances.
He said human growth hormone is a problem, but too many lawyers are trying to approve that it shouldn’t be on the list of banned substances. Pound said that football claims to have the best testing policy around, but when you look at the players it’s pretty obvious to him that some of the rules are being flouted.