On September 2nd, Vegas Golden Knights defencemen Nate Schmidt received a 20-game suspension after testing positive for a banned substance. This caused a big uproar in the NHL community after the amount of the banned substance detected was released. The amount of the substance in his system had the equivalent of a pinch of salt in an Olympic sized swimming pool. This was a strong representation of the zero tolerance for performance enhancing drugs in the NHL. Schmidt and the Golden Knights attempted to fight the decision due to the small amount. Schmidt explained how he only took substances that his team provided him and has never tested positively before.
The amount of the substance found was scientifically proven to not being able to give a performance enhancement, however, that did not change the NHL’s decision. This shows that hockey is not just a game, and that the NHL is not just a league, it is an institution, and institutions have rules with no exceptions. Even though Schmidt did not intend to break the rules, and he did not have an advantage over the other players, he technically broke the rules and the NHL took action.
The suspension of Nate Schmidt sets the standards for all other players in the NHL, and highlights the seriousness of performance enhancing drugs in sports and the intolerance towards testing positive. It does not matter if the player intentionally “cheats” or not, and it does not matter if you are a superstar, or a fourth liner, rules are rules and they must be followed. There have been cases like Schmidt’s where athletes have tested positive after having taken over-the-counter drugs to deal with minor issues such as the flu or a cold. Even though these over-the-counter drugs may not directly increase players performance, there are components within the drugs that are on league’s banned substances list, which therefore leads to a major suspension.