After Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt was slapped with a 20-game suspension for violating the NHL’s Performance Enhancing Substances Program, he was quick to come out and defend himself.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 2, 2018
Shortly after that, the Golden Knights sent out a message regarding their stance on the blueliner’s defenseman on the team’s website.
“We were notified that the NHL has suspended Nate Schmidt for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. While we respect the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program and are committed to its success, we strongly disagree with the suspension. We firmly believe that the presence of a trace of the banned substance was accidental and unintentional. Based on our conversations with Nate, analysis from independent medical experts and sworn testimony from the parties involved, we believe it is clear Nate was not able to reasonably ascertain how the substance entered his body.
Nate is an honest person with high moral character and great integrity. We will stand by him and support him during this time.”
And now, one of the best players in the National Hockey League, Nathan MacKinnon, is standing up for the suspended rearguard.
“I do believe him,” the 2017-18 Hart Trophy candidate said to Craig Custance of The Athletic. “I don’t think he was [expletive] injecting a needle in his ass. We’re all hockey players. We all respect the game. I’m sure Nate Schmidt isn’t a cheater. I believe him. I don’t think he intentionally did anything.”
Those are some pretty strong words from one of the most skilled players in the game. And MacKinnon brings up a pretty good point in his argument.
Getting handed a suspension of this nature implies that the Schmidt is, in fact, trying to cheat to gain an edge. And if the 27-year old did not try to intentionally gain an edge on his competition, he should not be labelled as a cheater.
According to a report from Katie Strang of The Athletic, it is a possibility that the traces of the banned substances are the result of eating contaminated meat. If that happens to be the case, then it would seem unfair to suspend a guy because a small trace of a performance-enhancing drug showed up in a bad cut of meat.
At this moment, the illegal substance has yet to be named.
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