NHL caught up in Russian Olympic doping scandal?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 22: The Polar Bear mascot cheers in the crowd during the Men's Ice Hockey Bronze Medal Game between Finland and the United States on Day 15 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 22, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA – FEBRUARY 22: The Polar Bear mascot cheers in the crowd during the Men’s Ice Hockey Bronze Medal Game between Finland and the United States on Day 15 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 22, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Richard McLaren, an investigator for the World Anti-Doping Agency, announced on Monday that he found at least 312 falsified results via Russia’s PED test cheating program, a.k.a. “the disappearing positive methodology.”

If you’ve not read the manner in which this cheating was accomplished, well, give this New York Times story a glance. They actually drilled a small hole in the wall between the sample room and the storage room and passed containers of urine in between them to beat the system. As for the drugs, from the Times:

The drugs, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov said, helped athletes recover quickly after grueling training regimens, allowing them to compete in top form over successive days.

To speed up absorption of the steroids and shorten the detection window, he dissolved the drugs in alcohol — Chivas whiskey for men, Martini vermouth for women. Dr. Rodchenkov’s formula was precise: one milligram of the steroid mixture for every milliliter of alcohol. The athletes were instructed to swish the liquid around in their mouths, under the tongue, to absorb the drugs.

In the interviews, Dr. Rodchenkov boasted about his ability to shield doped athletes from detection. Even so, Russia had the highest number of athletes caught doping in 2014, according to WADA statistics. Dr. Rodchenkov said that some of his athletes would at times take drugs he had not approved, making them vulnerable to discovery. “All athletes are like small children,” he said. “They’ll put anything you give them into their mouths.”

The cheating occurred in several international events, including the 2014 Sochi Games, which brings us to the salient question asked in the headline above: Were NHL players caught up in the Russian doping scandal?

The short answer is “probably not.”

The McLaren report states that 14 Russian hockey players tested positive for PEDs and that those samples “disappeared” in the Russian testing lab. Grigory Rodchenkov, who ran the Sochi laboratory, told the New York Times in May that the “entire women’s hockey team” in Sochi was doping.

At the time of the report, Canadian hockey star Haley Wickenheiser said, “To see women’s hockey implicated is a bit surprising because hockey is not a sport typically with a history of doping in its culture. That was quite alarming for me to read that.”

It’s possible that the hockey players in the report were just those women’s players. But if there were men’s players involved, Slava Malamud suggests that they’re likely KHL players rather than NHL, because NHL players are “out of the system’s control.” And don’t forget that Russia held at least four IIHF tournament within the timeframe of the investigation.

So based on all of that, it would be surprising if NHL players were caught up in this. Sorry, Steigerwald.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.