NHL says players’ cocaine use on rise, wants to monitor more closely
The NHL is taking aim at cocaine use among its players.
Responding to a potential increased use of the drug, the league is beginning talks with the NHL Players Association to add it to the list of banned substances the league regularly monitors, according to a report Monday from TSN.
"The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told TSN in an interview. "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.
"I’d be shocked if we’re talking about a couple dozen guys. I don’t want to be naïve here … but if we’re talking more than 20 guys I’d be shocked. Because we don’t test in a comprehensive way, I can’t say."
The NHL regularly tests for performance-enhancing drugs. One third of the 2,400 urine samples collected from players last year were also screened for recreational drugs, like cocaine. Those samples, the report said, showed that the use of cocaine is on the rise.
Daly said those drugs would be a focus as the league tries to educate its players on the dangers.
NHLPA union executive director Donald Fehr has reportedly already been making efforts to curb cocaine use amongst the players and plans to address it again with this year’s players, the report said.
The NHL has dealt with a rise in cocaine-related player arrests as well. In 2014, Tampa Bay Lightning player Ryan Malone was arrested and charged with cocaine possession. Former Los Angeles Kings player Jarret Stoll was arrested for possession over the summer.
Cocaine use in general is statistically on the rise in North America.