Media drop puck for not calling out NHL on ‘inept drug program’

Updated September 6, 2018 - 5:24 pm

George McPhee said his organization supported the player, that he testified on Nate Schmidt’s behalf during the appeal process. He said that every supplement and vitamin and morsel of food the Golden Knights provide their team is National Science Foundation approved, that they test often and compile defensible documentation and are in a good place in regard to performance-enhancing drug issues.

And still, Schmidt sits.

McPhee, the Knights’ general manager, on Thursday addressed for the first time the defenseman being suspended by the NHL for 20 games, a result of Schmidt violating the league’s PED policy.

“It’s unfortunate that it happened — but the standards were pretty tough,” McPhee said. “This organization isn’t responsible for this. It didn’t come from us … now, you’re going to say the onus is on (Schmidt), but I can tell you in this process, a lot of you could go for a protein shake someplace around here and be positive tomorrow.”

Um, probably not.

It’s sort of astronomical in odds to believe your Mocha Madness from Tropical Smoothie is going to increase your level of testosterone or otherwise improve your endurance — although it can be hell on the waistline — but there’s always a chance before or after a lift at the gym that some unscrupulous character in the back might taint that scoop of protein with an added (banned) boost of something.

The onus for testing positive is on Schmidt. It’s always on the athlete.

He said in a statement that the only supplements he uses are provided by his NHL team. Given how McPhee responded Thursday, the implication is that the positive test came from an outside source.

But another part of this is on us.

Most media (my hand is raised) have dropped the puck, if you will, on the issue of drug testing in the NHL, whether our specific town included a franchise or not. Congress forced baseball into action some years back, and the NFL also was politically pushed toward more legitimate levels of testing, but the NBA and NHL sort of sat off stage and were never really publicly challenged to offer a serious option.

Which left us with this in regard to the NHL:

“The most inept drug program in all of professional sports,” said Victor Conte, the BALCO doping guru who for years helped athletes figure out ways to evade testing positive. “You could drive a Mack Truck through all the holes in hockey’s program. There is no transparency to it whatsoever. We have no idea what this guy (Schmidt) tested for. The program was designed to enable, harbor and promote the use of PEDs.

“It’s all smoke and mirrors, and they know it. This is an IQ test more than actually testing for drugs. Until there is a genuine interest by those who receive the major financial gains from hockey to catch cheaters, you will continue to have a rampant use of PEDs.”

Testing not absolved

The fact that from 2005 to 2017 the NHL suspended only five players for PED use means nothing.

The testing process isn’t absolved because of it.

Not when there is no testing on game days, when players could use any supplements or micro dose with testosterone or small levels of EPO and have it all out of their systems by the next day. Not when players know beforehand that one of two no-notice tests per year will occur in training camp. Not with just a mandatory leaguewide maximum of 60 offseason tests in a league of 700-plus players, and when there is ample warning before the test to cleanse one’s system.

“By and large, we have a clean sport and want to keep it that way,” McPhee said. “I fully support the NHL having this program, and there are some very intelligent people at the league that put this program together and we support it.”

That’s the public perception. I understand McPhee defending it. It’s the league he played in, the league he works for, the league he loves.

He might even believe it.

But nobody in the doping world with any semblance of credentials does. They know it’s a farce.

And yet the onus for the program not being scrutinized on a deeper and more profound and specific level falls on all of us in my business. It’s a much bigger deal than Nate Schmidt.

Fans won’t care. They’re not supposed to.

But that doesn’t mean we should accept something that’s untrue.

Schmidt got popped. Maybe he failed the IQ test. Maybe it really was unintentional.

Whatever the reason, it wasn’t because hockey has some great drug testing program.

“Zero transparency,” Conte said. “Absolutely none.”

More Golden Knights: Follow all of our Golden Knights coverage online at and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

Golden Knights Videos
Golden Edge: Alex Tuch Interview
Adam Hill and Ben Gotz interview Golden Knights forward Alex Tuch.
Golden Edge Mailbag With Alex Tuch
Golden Knights' Alex Tuch is LIVE in-studio for our VGK Mailbag with reporters Ben Gotz and Adam Hill!
Golden Edge: November 12 Practice
Ben Gotz and David Schoen discuss Nate Schmidt's return to practice, Gallant's absence, and Erik Haula's injury.
Nate Schmidt On Suspension
Golden Knights Defenseman Nate Schmidt talks about his suspension.
Golden Edge: Knights Coming Home After Loss To Boston
Golden Knights beat writer David Schoen goes over the Knights loss to the Boston Bruins.
Golden Edge: Pacioretty makes his return to Montreal
Max Pacioretty makes his return to Montreal, but it is former Golden Knight Tomas Tatar who scores the game winner for the Canadiens defeating the Knights 5-4. David Schoen reports from Montreal.
Golden Edge: Knights Beat Senators On The Road
Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen goes over the Golden Knights win against the Senators.
Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt discusses his suspension
Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt discusses his suspension after practice in Ottawa (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on Toronto loss
Gallant on Pacioretty
Gallant on how season has gone
Pacioretty on possible return
Golden Edge: Knights Shutout the Hurricanes
The Golden Knights defeat Carolina 3-0, with Marc-Andre Fleury marking his 50th career shutout. Adam Hill and Ed Graney report from T-Mobile Arena.
Marc-Andre Fleury and William Carrier on the Knights Win Over Carolina
November 3, 2018 at T-Mobile Arena.
Coach Gallant Presser
Gerard Gallant speaks after the Knights defeat Carolina 3-0 at T-Mobile Arena November 3, 2018.
Golden Edge: Knights Feeling Blue After Loss In St. Louis
Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen goes over the Knights 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Gallant and Marchessault on Perron
Coach Gerard Gallant and Golden Knights Jonathan Marchessault comment on former Knights player David Perron (Dave Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Coach Gerard Gallant on former Knights player David Perron
Coach Gerard Gallant on former Knights player David Perron (Dave Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Marchessault on Perron
Gallant on consistency after a loss to the Nashville Predators
Coach Gerard Gallant says the Golden Knights are playing well in stretches, but consistency has been a problem. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fleury on commercial
Marc-Andre Fleury talks about a commercial that features him in disguise as Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Fleury on wig
Marc-Andre Fleury puts on a blond wig at the end of practice to get some laughs.
Golden Edge: Knights Fall To Predators
Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen goes over the Knights 4-1 loss to the Nashville Predators.
Golden Edge Mailbag - October 30, 2018
Adam Hill and Ben Gotz answer your burning questions about the Golden Knights.
Golden Edge: Marchessault Hits Penalty Shot in OT
The Golden Knights defeat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 in overtime. Ben Gotz, Adam Hill, and David Schoen report from T-Mobile Arena.
Gallant says team's tenacity led to OT win over the Senators
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant discusses the Golden Knights win over the Ottawa Senators in overtime and how Ryan Reaves and Alex Tuch's contributions helped.
Golden Knights talk OT win, ready for road games
The Vegas Golden Knights talk about winning in overtime against the Ottawa Senators and how they will carry over that momentum on their upcoming road games.
Golden Edge: Knights Fall To Tampa, Pacioretty Exits Game
Adam Hill, Ben Gotz and David Schoen go over the Knights loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Golden Knights locker room post following loss to Lightning
The Vegas Golden Knights agreed following their loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning that they need to play more aggressive and be more consistent throughout the game to come out victorious.
Gallant says Golden Knights need to play hungrier
Following the Vegas Golden Knights loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Gerard Gallant says the team needs to play hungrier and be more consistent to get wins.
Golden Edge: Knights Fall Short to Canucks in Shootout
The Golden Knights lose 3-2 in a shootout to the Vancouver Canucks, but announce after the game that they have signed Nate Schmidt to a 6 year contract extension. Adam Hill, David Schoen, and Ben Gotz report from T-Mobile Arena.
Golden Knights coach Gallant on team's loss to Vancouver, Schmidt's new deal
Following the Golden Knights 3-2 loss to the Canucks, head coach Gerard Gallant addressed the missed opportunities and also spoke about Nate Schmidt's new contract with the team.
Golden Knights discuss shootout loss to Canucks
The Vegas Golden Knights discuss their loss to the Vancouver Canucks at the T-Mobile Arena.
Golden Edge: Knights party, practice before facing Canucks
Adam Hill, Dave Schoen, and Ben Gotz reports from City National Arena after the Golden Knights practice. The team is in high spirits after a costume party and on a 3 game win streak.
Golden Edge Mailbag 10-23-2018
Ben Gotz and Adam Hill read Golden Knights viewer mail and discuss players costumes for Halloween.
Golden Knights credit chemistry, strong fourth line for win over Ducks
Following their 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks, the Vegas Golden Knights players credited team chemistry and solid play from the fourth line as keys to their victory.
Gallant happy with team effort in win over the Ducks
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant says he's happy with the team's effort, especially the fourth line, after the win over the Anaheim Ducks.
VGS themed games from AGS at G2E Global Gaming Expo
A Golden Knights-themed slot machine was on display Tuesday at the G2E Global Gaming Expo as AGS showed two products that came out of a 3-year contract with the Knights. A video roulette game featuring a Knights helmet and an enormous slot machine were on the floor along with Knights cheerleaders, the Drumbots and Chance, the Knights' mascot. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights talk after practice
Marc-Andre Fleury, Max Pacioretty and Cody Eakin in the locker room on Wed. October 3, 2018.
Vegas Golden Knights show support at blood drive
Members of the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team showed up for a community blood drive on the first anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting, Oct. 1, 2018. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Lucas Elvenes is ranked as one of the Golden Knights' top prospects
Lucas Elvenes is ranked as one of the Golden Knights' top prospects after a breakout season in Sweden. He slid to the fifth round in the 2017 draft after being projected to be selected much higher. “I wasn’t happy about being a fifth-rounder. But it was good for me, too, because I didn’t have so much pressure when I came here," Elvenes said. Elvenes posted five goals and 16 points in 28 games while playing in the top league in Sweden. The Knights signed Elvenes to a three-year, entry-level contract in June.
Golden Knights rookie camp - Day 2
The Golden Knights held their second day of rookie camp at City Arena in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like