NEW YORK (July 22, 2005) - As part of the partnership created by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association today announced the implementation of a new program dealing with the use of performance-enhancing substances by NHL players.
Per the agreement, every NHL player will be subject to up to two "no-notice" tests every year, with at least one such test to be conducted on a team-wide basis. Players will be subject to "no-notice" testing at any time.
Positive tests for performance-enhancing substances will result in mandatory discipline as follows:
For the first positive test, a 20-game suspension without pay and mandatory referral to the League's Substance Abuse/Behavioral Health Program for evaluation, education and possible treatment.
For the second positive test, a 60-game suspension without pay.
For the third positive test, a permanent suspension. A player receiving a third positive test and a permanent suspension from play in the League will, however, be eligible to apply for reinstatement after two years. The application would be considered by an NHLPA/NHL Committee on Performance Enhancing Substances, comprised of an equal number of League and Player representatives as well as one consulting expert physician nominated by each party.
The joint Committee also will agree on a Prohibited Substances List. The list will include performance-enhancing substances on the list maintained by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for both in-competition and out-of-competition testing. Changes to the items included on the Prohibited List can only be as negotiated by the NHL and NHLPA.
Other responsibilities of the Committee include: the establishment of a comprehensive educational program on the dangers of performance-enhancing substances and the nature of the NHL/NHLPA Program; selection of an appropriate sample-collecting authority and an appropriate testing laboratory; development of Player and Club notification procedures for positive test results; the administration of the mandatory discipline and appeal processes; oversight of the administration of Player evaluation and treatment following positive tests; establishment of standards for the administration of "probable cause" testing.
Over time, and to the extent feasible, the Program Committee will endeavor to develop an "approved list" of nutritional supplements, which will have been tested and certified as being free of prohibited substances.
The scope of the new Performance-Enhancing Substances Program will be limited to performance-enhancing substances. All other forms of "substance abuse" and behavioral and domestic issues involving players requiring employee assistance will continue to be handled through the NHL/NHLPA Program for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health that was established in 1996.
The Program will employ a strict liability standard for test positives, at the levels established by the Program Committee. A Player will, however, have the right to appeal a positive test result to the Impartial Arbitrator, with such appeal to be heard on an expedited basis.
Test results will be kept confidential to the extent practicable. There will be no public announcement of any kind until the appeal process has been exhausted and the final disciplinary determination has been imposed. Once a positive test has been confirmed after appeal, the Player suspended will be identified, and it will be announced that the Player "has been suspended for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Program for Performance Enhancing Substances."
All Salary which is forfeited by a Player by reason of a suspension arising from the Player's violation of the PES Program will be utilized to help defer the costs of both the SABH Program and the PES Program.
I have been blessed to play for 16 years in the NHL; it has been an amazing ride. I would like to thank the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers organizations and owners for providing me the opportunity to play the sport I love for so many years. I could have never played for so long or accomplished all that I have without the unwavering love and support from my wife, Heather, our three sons, Ryan, Lucas, and Mason, and my parents.