On Friday, word broke that Nate Schmidt of the Vegas Golden Knights had failed a drug test for a performance enhancing substance. He is due to miss roughly a quarter of the season, 20 games, for testing positive for a banned substance. And he is automatically referred to the NHL/NHLPA Program for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health.
When I found out about this, I was shocked, not because Nate Schmidt was suspended after having a career year but, because the NHL actually had a performance enhancing substance drug testing program. I had never heard nor known that they actually tested for these but that the NHL was aware of other drug usage by players and started testing for that last year.
Anyway, the last instance of a player being snagged for performance enhancing substances was Brian Berard in 2005. The test identified a steroid called 19-norandrosterone and Berard became the first NHL player to test positive for a steroid. He was not suspended by the NHL but was barred from international competition for two years afterward.
Schmidt denies intentionally using a substance other than what was provided by the team. He also defends himself based upon the amount found in his sample.
Really strong refutation of the NHL's ruling by Nate Schmidt, including details about the hearing. pic.twitter.com/PqKTfpaFET
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) September 2, 2018
His team, the Vegas Golden Knights also issued a statement this weekend:
Strong statement from the Golden Knights regarding Nate Schmidt’s recently announced 20-game suspension: pic.twitter.com/oLQPcYoVEj
— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) September 2, 2018
Nate Schmidt likely cannot appeal this suspension since there doesn’t seem to be wording in the CBA that allows for it. However, one aspect of the Substance Abuse/ Performance Enhancing Substances Program calls for the salary the player forfeits as result of testing positive will defray the costs of the program.