Former NHL enforcer Derek Boogaard reportedly failed 14 of 19 drug tests in the last six months of his life and was still allowed to play hockey by doctors who administered his care.
This report comes from TSN’s Rick Westhead who said Dr. David Lewis, a co-founder of the NHL and NHLPA’s substance abuse program is being investigated by California state medical regulators for his care of Boogaard.
Boogaard died of a drug overdose in May of 2011. In 2013 his family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NHL, saying the league was responsible for head trauma Boogaard sustained during his career, as well as his addiction to prescription painkillers. It was found that Boogaard suffered from the degenerative brain disease CTE at the time of his death at the age of 28.
The report said a similar complaint was filed with the College of Psychologists of Ontario by Len Boogaard, Derek’s father, toward Dr. Brian Shaw who also co-founded the substance abuse program. Dr. Shaw was reportedly cleared of any wrongdoing.
In 2009, Boogaard, went to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Malibu, California and upon leaving signed a document on how to stay sober.
He re-joined the Wild on Oct. 9, 2009, signing a document detailing his “after-care program.” On the one-page form, Boogaard agreed to abstain from using any drugs, unless the drugs were specifically approved by program doctors or prescribed by team physicians. The form, which was obtained by TSN along with other documentation for this story from Len Boogaard, indicated Derek would face random drug testing, would be required to attend three “12-step” meetings each week, and had to stay in “regular contact” with SABH program officials.
The form also included this paragraph: “I understand and agree that failure to meet the conditions of this Aftercare Plan may result in a permanent suspension at the sole discretion of the Program Doctors.”
Boogaard reportedly missed a drug test on Jan. 19, 2010, saying he was on the road, which one of his doctor’s noted wasn’t true.
After Boogaard signed a four-year contract in the fall of 2010 with the New York Rangers he reportedly “was again failing repeated tests.” The results were given to Shaw and Lewis, but not to the Rangers or the NHL.
According to the piece, the doctors do not tell the union or the NHL their treatment plans, adding "the SABH is a confidential program." It also said the programs doctors decide if a player should be suspended or fined if he steps out of line with his regimen.
Even though they reportedly knew Boogaard continued to fail drug tests, he continued to play.
As his treatment with Dr. Shaw and Dr. Lewis continued into the fall of 2010, Boogaard tested positive for Diphenhydramine and Pseudoephedrine, the active ingredients in the banned stimulants Benadryl and Sudafed, on Nov. 8, Nov. 10, and Dec. 4.
On Dec. 1, 2010, he tested positive for Alprazolam, the active ingredient in the anxiety medication Xanax, and for the narcotic pain reliever Tramadol. It’s unclear whether the NHL would consider that a failed test. On Nov. 16, Boogaard was prescribed 40 pills of Tramadol by Dr. Andrew Feldman, a New York Rangers doctor.
Dr. Shaw and Dr. Lewis reportedly wrote on Jan. 10, 2011 that Boogaard admitted he was illegally purchasing the painkiller oxycodone and was asked to enter a rehab facility but refused.
A New York Times report in 2012 said Boogaard received more than 100 prescriptions from the Minnesota Wild and Rangers his last three seasons. In 2010, the Rangers team dentist prescribed Boogaard hydrocodone after he sustained an injury. The team also prescribed Boogaard’s sleeping pills even though he had been addicted to them in the past.
In the fall of 2014 arrests were made to two men who law enforcement believed illegally gave Boogaard narcotics.
“Shaw and Lewis could have put (Derek) back in rehab, garnished his wages, banned him from playing hockey, whatever, that’s what he needed,” Len Boogaard said in Westhead’s story. “He needed a wakeup call…Instead, he constantly broke the rules. And they let him.”
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