COLORADO SPRINGS, March 21. THE National Hockey League, the National Hockey League Players Association
and the United States Olympic Committee have reached an agreement by which all American NHL players eligible for participation in the 2002 Olympic Winter Games will be subject to No Advance Notice drug-testing protocols next summer.
The testing will be carried out by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for all NHL players who want to compete in the Salt Lake Games in 2002 and will begin this summer. The testing will be done to detect performance-enhancing drugs and masking agents.
"This agreement was reached with a spirit of cooperation from the beginning," said USOC Acting CEO Scott Blackmun, ignoring the fact that the NHL and NHLPA initially protested being included in the testing. "We sought a system where all American athletes who wish to represent our nation in Salt Lake City would be subject to testing as a matter of basic fairness, and we have now accomplished that goal. Our hats are off to the NHL and NHLPA for their cooperation and teamwork on this important issue."
The agreement was also supported by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which is in charge of the testing of all American athletes in Olympic sports.
"We are supportive of this agreement," said USADA Chief Executive Officer Terry Madden. "We are pleased that all NHL athletes who wish to be members of Olympic Teams in 2002 recognize this issue and have met it head-on. "
"USA Hockey would like to applaud the efforts of all parties involved in the creation of this agreement," said USA Hockey Executive Director Doug Palazaari. As a result, we are very excited to make our first player announcement by the March 25 deadline."
The USOC Executive Committee voted earlier this year for a policy that includes professional athletes in the same random, no advance notice testing program that covers all other athletes who want to become members of American teams at future Olympic Games. The system requires that any professional athlete who wants to represent the United States submit to the program up to one year in advance of the Games.
"This agreement ensures that we will have the world's finest ice hockey players in the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake," said Blackmun. "I think this competition will be one that fans and a worldwide television audience will not soon forget. We are pleased by the spirit of cooperation that we have received from the NHLPA and the NHL."