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Blue Jackets' Berard Tests Positive for Banned Steroid

January 20, 2006|Helene Elliott | Times Staff Writer

Bryan Berard of the Columbus Blue Jackets tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid in a test administered in November by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency while he was a candidate for the U.S. Olympic hockey team, several sources confirmed Thursday.

After attending USA Hockey's Olympic Orientation camp in Colorado Springs in September, the 28-year-old native of Woonsocket, R.I., was named to the preliminary U.S. roster for the Turin Games. As a result, he was subject to random, no-advance-notice testing by USADA. The positive result stems from a test performed on Nov. 12.

Berard wasn't included on the final U.S. roster, which was announced in December. However, the positive test for 19-norandrosterone -- a metabolite of the steroid nandrolone -- means he will face a two-year ban from international play.

The NHL's rookie of the year in 1997 with the New York Islanders, Berard played for the 1998 U.S. Olympic team at the Nagano Games. He was struck in the right eye by an opponent's stick in March 2000 and missed the 2000-01 season, but he was fitted with a special contact lens to compensate for his loss of sight and he resumed his career in 2001-02 with the New York Rangers. In 2004, while playing for the Chicago Blackhawks, he won the Masterton Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

Berard is scheduled to discuss the matter today in Columbus, where he is expected to say that he ingested the substance last spring, while he was training in Southern California during the NHL lockout. USADA is expected to announce the test result today in a news release.

Because the test took place outside the scope of the NHL's new substance abuse program, the positive result will not affect Berard's NHL status.

The league and the players' association adopted the program as part of the collective bargaining agreement they negotiated last summer, but testing of players was delayed until last Sunday to allow players and medical personnel to attend tutorials on substance abuse.

Under the new program, NHL players who test positive for steroids or growth hormones will be suspended 20 games for a first infraction, 60 games for a second infraction and will get a lifetime ban for a third infraction. Players can be tested up to twice a season.

Officials at USA Hockey, which oversees the Olympic and national team programs, and the NHL declined to comment about Berard on Thursday.

No positive tests have been announced by the NHL and the players' association since the NHL began testing players.

In November, Dick Pound, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said that one-third of the NHL's 700 players use performance-enhancing substances.

Players, NHL executives and the players' union refuted his statement.

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