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

Updated: November 25, 2005, 8:27 AM ET
Asssociated Press

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."