Monday, January 17, 2011

Daily News Sports Editor
With two OHL players having been suspended for eight games each after testing positive for methylhexaneamine, trainer Colin Robinson says players with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers have been told more than once to be careful with so-called energy drinks and other supplements.
“It’s a huge concern, for sure,” Robinson said Saturday afternoon before his club entertained the Portland Winterhawks at Interior Savings Centre.
Robinson, who has worked in the WHL since 1995, added that he constantly works on educating the players about these things.
“The players are made very aware that these energy drinks are not safe and not recommended,” he explained. “We don’t supply them to the players. If the players get them they get them on their own, knowing that the responsibility is theirs.”
The CHL, which oversees the OHL, QMJHL and WHL, entered into an agreement with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport during 2006-07. The CCEC handles testing for the three leagues.
When the CHL cut its deal with CCES, it immediately agreed to live by the World Anti-Doping Association’s list of banned drugs. Methylhexaneamine was added to the WADA list in 2010.
Following the news Friday that Alex Aleardi, a forward with the Plymouth Whalers, and Ryan O’Connor, a defenceman with the Saginaw Spirit, had drawn eight-game suspensions, the WHL sent an alert via email to each of its 22 teams.
It is generally agreed that Aleardi and O’Connor, who were tested in November, made an honest mistake, purchasing an over-the-counter product named Jack3d, while not aware of what it contained.
The Blazers were in Kennewick, Wash., and Robinson convened a brief meeting prior their game against the Tri-City Americans.
“The players,” he said, “were made aware that this had happened. I wanted to make sure, again, that they understand the consequences.”
Robinson said the “first thing out of their mouths” was that the OHL players “just bought it over the counter.”
Robinson said he told the players: “You all know when you take the test — they have to do an online test every year — it says you’re responsible. You bought it, you put it in your body . . . that makes it your responsibility.”
The Portland Winterhawks were in Kelowna for a game with the Rockets when the email went out from the WHL office.
As soon as he saw it, Rich Campbell, the Winterhawks’ athletic therapist and strength/conditioning coach, said he “walked right back and talked to players. I asked if they were familiar with the specific product and let them know that it was illegal.”
Campbell said this “is very important to us because players hear about these supplements through other athletes and a lot of times there’s stuff in there that we don’t know is in there.
“I’m familiar with (methylhexaneamine). It’s in a lot of those pump-you-up supplements. The trick is to educate the guys and let them know what’s legal and what isn’t legal as far as the substances.”
Campbell said players sometimes approach him with supplement-related questions, and he also monitors the situation.
“Mostly I just look in the (dressing room) and see what’s there,” he said.
Robinson said that with the Blazers, Dev Mitra, the strength and conditioning coach, “handles all the supplement and protein powders and that.”
Robinson added: “We make sure it’s all sanctioned. If it doesn have NSC on it -- which means it’s gone through the testing -- then we don’t recommend or ask the guys to take that type of powder. Anything they’re on they let us know beforehand and Dev and I check over the WADA list to make sure it’s all good.”
The Blazers have been visited twice this season, once in Portland and again in Prince George. In each instance, one player was tested and, as Robinson said, “Both times it’s been good.”
It turns out that methylhexaneamine raised its ugly head in baseball a few months ago.
Mike Lemaire of Baseball America reported in August:
“Prior to July 28, no players had violated minor league baseball’s drug program by testing positive for the stimulant methylhexaneamine.
“Little more than two weeks later, eight minor leaguers from four levels of the minors had tested positive for the drug and received 50-game suspensions. A pre-workout supplement that baseball recently banned contained stimulants that proved to be the culprit.”
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