NHL – AHL Implement Drug Testing Policies


In a joint statement to help ensure fair competition and player safety the National Hockey League and affiliate American Hockey League have announced the implementation of an education and drug-testing program for all AHL players.

The program is a result of a collaborative effort between the NHLPA (NHL Players Association) and the PHLPA (Professional Hockey League Players Association).  The PHLPA represents players in the AHL under their Collective Bargaining Agreement.

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The goal is to ensure AHL players avoid Performance Enhancing Substances and maintain avoidance of recreational drugs.  Along with drug testing, which will be administered by team physicians, the AHL is instituting a Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program.

Hockey players are not known for frequent drug testing violations and have not had the same number of incidents as the NFL or MLB.  Since 2005 the NHL has enforced a strict policy.  Here is the breakdown of suspension policies for the four major sports.

One of the limited instances occurred last year during the 2014 Olympics when Washington Capitals centermen Nicklas Backstrom was suspended from playing for his home country Sweden in the gold-medal game against Canada.  The suspension was reportedly for using a banned-substance.  The cause was pseudoephedrine, which is a component substance in Backstrom’s allergy medication.

It’s good to see that both leagues are taking a proactive approach to PED’s and substance abuse, weighing in before any major incidents have occurred with players.  Starting in the lower levels will ensure continued clean play in the NHL.   At least, clean play off the ice.