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Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt says suspension is 'utterly shocking'

Posted at 9:57 AM, Sep 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-03 07:13:20-04

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt has been suspended for 20 games, without pay, for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. 


The NHL did not specify the substance Schmidt tested positive. Schmidt will be allowed to participate in team activities during training camp but can’t dress for or play in preseason games. He has also been referred to a substance abuse and behavioral health program for evaluation and possible treatment. 
The Vegas Golden Knights issued the following statement today regarding the suspension of Nate Schmidt:
We were notified that the NHL has suspended Nate Schmidt for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. While we respect the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program and are committed to its success, we strongly disagree with the suspension. We firmly believe that the presence of a trace of the banned substance was accidental and unintentional. Based on our conversations with Nate, analysis from independent medical experts and sworn testimony from the parties involved, we believe it is clear Nate was not able to reasonably ascertain how the substance entered his body.
Nate is an honest person with high moral character and great integrity. We will stand by him and support him during this time.”
The Golden Knights will not be commenting further on the matter.
Schmidt also issued a statement:
I am extremely disappointed to learn that I have been suspended for a violation of the NHL/ NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. The fact that I'm issuing this statement is surreal to me as I have only used supplements provided by my NHL team and I have always been extremely careful about what I put into my body. Throughout my playing career I have been tested numerous times, including twice last season, and I have never before tested positive. It was utterly shocking to be informed that I tested positive for a microscopic amount of a tainted substance. Not only did I not intentionally take a banned substance, I could not have received any performance enhancement benefit from the trace amount that inadvertently got into my system at a level that was far too small to have any effect. This low amount was consistent with environmental contamination that I could not possibly have prevented.
One of the experts in environmental contamination who testified on my behalf at the Appeal hearing described the amount of the substance found in my system - 7 billionths of a milligram/mL - as the equivalent of a pinch of salt in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Another expert analyzed a sample of my hair and concluded there was no evidence of intentional use. The Vegas GoldenKnights track players' strength and performance metrics and my results have remained constant over the past year.
While I support having a strong Performance Enhancing Substances Program in place for our sport, it is difficult to accept this suspension. I understand that I will miss these games, but I do not agree with the suspension and I will not accept being labelled a cheater.
I have worked my whole life to become an NHL player, and I'm extremely proud to be a player in the NHL. I have never cut corners in order to achieve this goal. I am grateful for the support of the entire Golden Knights organization and I can't put into words how disappointed I am that I will not be on the ice at the beginning of the season to help my teammates work towards another Stanley Cup run.
I will make no further comment on this matter at this time.

Schmidt was a vital player for the VGK during its first run to the Stanley Cup Final.

“Its just probably one of those things that got into his system but it can’t enhance him whatsoever in terms of his playing on the ice," says TC Martin, FOX Sports Radio. “Schmidt is a veteran player and he’s a guy that means a lot to this team and a lot to this city, he’s been one of the guys out in the community.”

He spent the most time on the ice with an average of 22 minutes and 13 seconds of play during each game.