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NHL says Pound's claim has 'no basis in fact'

11/25/2005 - NHL

LONDON, Ontario -- NHL players and executives denied
allegations by World Anti-Doping Agency president Dick Pound that
as many as a third of the league's 700 players may take some form
of performance-enhancing substances.

"I would respectfully suggest that Mr. Pound's comments have
absolutely no basis in fact," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly
told The Canadian Press on Thursday. "I find it troubling, to say
the least, that he would find it necessary to comment on something
he has absolutely no knowledge of."

In an interview for a story published Friday, Pound told the
London Free Press on Thursday that he spoke to league commissioner
Gary Bettman and told him he thought there was widespread use of
performance-enhancing substances in the NHL.

"I spoke with Gary and he said, `We don't have the problem in
hockey,"' Pound told the newspaper. "I told him he does. You
wouldn't be far wrong if you said a third."

Asked if he meant performing-enhancing drugs, the Montreal
lawyer replied, "Yes."

NHL Players' Association executive director Ted Saskin bristled
at Pound's statement.

"Dick Pound's comments are incredibly irresponsible and have no
basis in fact," Saskin said. "He has no knowledge of our sport
and our players and, frankly, has no business making such
comments."

The NHL introduced random tests for performance-enhancing drugs
in its new collective bargaining agreement. Players are subject to
a minimum of two tests a year without warning. A first-time
offender gets a 20-game suspension, a second offense calls for a
60-game suspension, and a third offense results in a lifetime ban.

"The NHL has reached a deal with their players that looks as
though they found an early copy of the baseball policy on the floor
somewhere," Pound said after addressing students at the University
of Western Ontario's law school.

"Who's Dick Pound?" Vancouver Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi said. "Tell him to come in our dressing room with our shirts off and we'll see how performance-enhanced we are. Tell him he can come
hang out with me and see my workout.

"Trust me, we're not."

San Jose Sharks defenseman Scott Hannan acknowledged that it's
possible some players take performance-enhancing drugs, but
insisted Pound's assessment is inaccurate.

"Am I naive in saying that nobody's ever used it or nobody is?
Probably," Hannan said. "But as far as extensively, I think
that's a baseless comment."