NHL Cocaine Use Reportedly on the Rise, Has League and Players Union Very Concered
NHL cocaine use is on the rise according to the league’s deputy commissioner, Bill Daly.
“The number of positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly said in an interview with TSN. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.”
Daly is not the only one who has expressed concern. According to TSN, Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHLPA, discussed the apparent increase in cocaine use during closed-doors meetings with “numerous NHL clubs.” He also canvassed players to ask why they think the drug has become more popular, and has addressed the issue in meetings with new NHLers this year.
Unfortunately, we do not know how many players are using coke. The routine drug tests players undergo as part of the collective bargaining agreement look for PEDs, not cocaine. One third of the 2,400 samples collected each year are then screened more closely for other drugs, and it is a rise in the number of positives among those 800 or so samples that has the NHL concerned.
However, these positives are not enough to give an accurate picture of the prevalence of cocaine use. Cocaine metabolizes quickly and is only detectable in urine for one or two days after being ingested.
“People who want to beat drug tests know that the more water you drink after using cocaine, the faster it flushes through and out of your system,” explained Dr. Bhushan Kapur, a toxicologist at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Research Institute. “It’s not an easy drug to catch.”
PED expert Dr. Charles Yesalis, professor emeritus of health policy at Penn State University, believes the NHL and NHLPA need to classify cocaine as performance enhancing and test for it more thoroughly.
“Cocaine is a stimulant, like amphetamines, and is used to increase bravado, aggressiveness,” Yesalis explained. “Hockey is a game where that would be a benefit. Am I surprised? Absolutely not. It’s not a cream puff sport. You need highly aggressive men out there.”
The NHL is heeding the advice of Dr. Yesalis. According to deputy commissioner Daly, they’ve “kick-started” talks with the NHLPA about adding coke and similar drugs to the list of banned substances routinely monitored.
Hat Tip – [TSN]