The CHL, which includes the Western, Ontario and Quebec major junior leagues, will make a joint announcement with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport on Wednesday in Toronto. The QMJHL has had drug testing for the past two seasons as a test case for the other two leagues.
“We have been working with the CCES and the Quebec league in evaluating the program put in place in Quebec,” WHL commissioner Ron Robison said Monday.
“We’re putting together educational material for the players in anticipation of starting testing later this season.”
Calgary Hitmen defenceman Karl Alzner said he had ample notice that drug testing was coming because the team trainer gave him a list of banned substances last season.
“They told us sooner or later there was going to be some testing, totally random, and they didn’t know when it was going to happen,” Alzner said. “We should be all right. We’ve been warned about it and apparently it’s supposed to come as soon as the New Year starts.”
The 18-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., welcomes drug testing.
“I’ve heard of people in the past taking illegal things to make themselves get better and it’s about time it’s a fair game” Alzner said. “Then there will be a level playing field and all the success is going to go to the guys who work the hardest off the ice.”
Player agent Gilles Lupien ignited the issue of doping in major junior hockey when he told a Montreal newspaper in December, 2003 that about half of the players in the QMJHL were drug users and the most common substances were ephedrine, creatine, amphetamines, marijuana and various relaxants.
The QMJHL implemented a doping policy for the following 2004-05 season. There has been one positive drug test – for ephedrine – in the QMJHL over the past two seasons. A first-time offence brings a suspension of five to 10 games, a second offence a 25-game ban and a third offence a two-year suspension.
Players are subject to testing in the pre-season, regular season and playoffs.
Quebec’s midget triple-A league began testing its players in March 2004.