Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt said Sunday that he was "extremely disappointed" at receiving a 20-game suspension from the NHL for violating its policies on performance-enhancing drugs. His team offered support for the 27-year-old defenseman, and some fans out there are starting to see this may be a witch hunt...
The National Hockey League did not specify the substance for which Schmidt tested positive, but his contention was that it was discovered in a quantity so minute - seven billionths of a milligram per milliliter, he claimed - that it could not have given him a noticeable advantage, and that the small amount was consistent with unwitting consumption of "environmental contamination."
Schmidt said that one expert who testified on his behalf during a hearing to appeal his suspension claimed that the amount of the banned substance found in his system was the "equivalent of a pinch of salt in an Olympic-sized swimming pool."
That appears to be very little and could honestly have been an accident and not something Schmidt did intentionally.
In a statement Schmidt said it was "utterly shocking to be informed that I tested positive for a microscopic amount of a tainted substance." He claimed to have only used team-provided supplements, and to have been tested "numerous times" throughout his five-year NHL career without previously yielding a positive result.
"Not only did I not intentionally take a banned substance, I could not have received any performance enhancement benefit from the trace amount that inadvertently got into my system at a level that was far too small to have any effect," Schmidt said. "This low amount was consistent with environmental contamination that I could not possibly have prevented."
Clearly, the Golden Knights agree with their player, as clearly state in their reaction following the announcement of the suspension:
"While we respect the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program and are committed to its success, we strongly disagree with the suspension," the Golden Knights said in a statement. "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.
PED suspensions are relatively uncommon in the NHL, and many wonder now what is going on... Some people are thinking this case could become a huge league wide conspiracy theory!