Report: 'Serious Questions' Surround Capitals Steroid Investigation

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Report: 'Serious Questions' Surround Capitals' Steroid Investigation

Back in March, steroid investigators entered the Washington Capitals' training facility to question players about allegations made by a Florida man that he had supplied steroids to the team. These allegations led to a set of investigations into the matter, one by the NHL and one by the Capitals themselves.

The Caps noted publicly at the time that there was a "thorough investigation," and that "the NHL and our own internal investigation have not led to any link of steroid use by Capitals players."

According to a report in the April 26 edition of Sports Illustrated, however, there are doubts about the veracity of those statements by the Capitals. Was the teams' internal investigation as thorough as they led us to believe?

Here's SI's David Epstein:

However, according to an April 7 e-mail from Ian Floyd of the Polk County Sheriff's Tactical Drug Unit to Judd (his boss), there are serious questions about the investigations conducted by the NHL and the Capitals. "I called and spoke with [NHL executive vice president of security] Dennis Cunningham today in reference to the official statements made by the Washington Capitals and NHL regarding the 'thorough investigation,'" reads the e-mail, which Judd allowed SI to review. "Mr. Cunningham admitted that contrary to the below issued statements, no investigation was ever conducted into Dr. Nagel and his ties to steroids and Capitals players by anyone with the NHL."

[...]

According to Floyd's e-mail, when he asked the Capitals about their investigation, a team official also told him that none had been undertaken. "During a conversation I had with [Capitals assistant general manager and director of legal affairs] Don Fishman," the e-mail reads, "he advised that no investigation had been conducted by the Capitals into Dr. Nagel's potential involvement with steroids and Capitals players. Mr. Fishman advised that any investigation would have been conducted by Dennis Cunningham from the NHL's security office."

A Capitals spokesman also told the SI reporter when asked about these most recent claims that the team conducted a "brief investigation."

We've gone from a "thorough investigation," to "no investigation," to now a "brief" one.

Japers' Rink, SBN's Capitals blog, may have put it best:

I guess it all depends on what your definition of "thorough" is.

Regardless of how you define certain words, though, the Caps have used three different ones with three completely different meanings. It would be irresponsible to jump to the ultimate conclusion and say that the Caps are are steroids, but you really can't help but feel uneasy about this story. It's hard to know what to believe here, but the discrepancies in each report certainly make you want to question things, don't they?

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Capitals Release Official Statement Regarding FBI Investigation

Responding to Tuesday's news that the Washington Capitals were involved in an FBI investigation involving steroids, the team has released an official statement:

Florida law enforcement authorities have continued their steroid investigation following the arrest of Florida resident Richard Thomas in May 2009. The Washington Capitals are not the target of this investigation, and there is no evidence that steroids were provided to any Capitals players.

This has been a thorough investigation, and we are satisfied that law enforcement, the NHL and our own internal investigation have not led to any link of steroid use by Capitals players.

The investigation included conversations with the Washington Capitals as far back as September 2009, and we were and have been fully cooperative and transparent in the past as well as today.

Dr. Douglas Owen Nagel, a Virginia chiropractor who was arrested today, is not affiliated with the Washington Capitals and is not the "team chiropractor," as he has stated. Dr. Nagel's office, however, has seen some of our players for standard, routine chiropractic services.

As part of the NHL's drug policy, Capitals players are randomly tested up to three times per year by an independent testing agency, which sends the samples to the World Anti Doping Association for testing. Capitals players have been tested twice so far this year. At no time in our history has a Capitals player ever tested positive.

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Steroids And The Capitals: On Second Thought... Let's Not Rush To Judgment

Just for the record, there's been no proof of any steroid use from any of the Capitals players, or any NHL players, as it relates to this matter. As J.P. of Japers Rink reminds us in the comments, this was all addressed back in May:

"We have no reason to believe there is any merit to this story, but the National Hockey League and the Washington Capitals take all such allegations seriously," said Capitals president Dick Patrick in a team release. "Capitals players have fully participated in the NHL's random drug testing program, and at no point has a Capitals player tested positive. In addition our players have been tested at international events, such as World Championships and Olympics. We welcome and will fully cooperate with the NHL's investigation."

"The Washington Capitals have no knowledge of any aspect of this allegation," said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. "Capitals players were subjected to no-notice testing five separate times over the past two seasons pursuant to the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and there was no indication of any improper conduct or wrongdoing."

And while watching baseball's demise has conditioned cynicism in most sports fans, there's still nothing material to any steroid suspicions regarding the NHL or the Washington Capitals. For that matter, if there's one thing that deserves more cynicism than performancing enhancing athletes, it's overzealous law-enforcement and journalists that give them credence.

So le's take this opportunity to dial back any interpretations of today's news, and allow the investigation run its course before we reach any conclusions.

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Steroids Hit The NHL? Investigators Visit Washington Capitals Training Facility

After soaking in the filth of steroid accusations for nearly a decade, baseball would seem long overdue to have some company. Surely baseball players aren't the only professional athletes using performance enhancers, right?

Right. And particularly with pro hockey, it would seem there's an elephant in the room. You think athletes who spend their nights careening into each other and racing each other on skates might benefit from a little extra jolt? Nah...

And partly because the NHL doesn't have much of a testing program in place, it's always been sort of assumed that at some point, things would hit the fan. Enter Tuesday's news. Today, investigators entered the training facility of the Washington Capitals.

AOL Fanhouse broke the story:

Investigators from a Florida sheriff's department and the U.S. Marshall's office converged on the Washington Capitals' training facility on Tuesday as part of a steroid investigation, two law enforcement officials told FanHouse.

"We are looking to talk to a few players," an investigator from the Polk County Sherriff's office said before they entered the Capitals office building that is attached to the team's practice rink.

Another Polk County investigator, who identified himself only as a sergeant, told FanHouse they were here as part of the investigation of Douglas Owen Nagel, a chiropractor in nearby Reston, Va. Nagel was arrested by Polk County and federal authorities Tuesday on suspicion he had purchased anabolic steroids.

It's too early to speculate about the implications here, but if nothing else, it's an ominous sign for hockey. As investigators swarmed the Capitals facility in Virginia, down in Florida, Jose Canseco tweeted from his Florida home:

Oh my God I just got a subpoena to testify before the grand jury about Roger Clemens, Andrew Pettite and others on Thursday April 8, 2010, at 1:00 p.m. It's like the Godfather. [Just] when I thought I was out they drag me back in.

Keep in mind: this comes a full five years after Canseco released his book, Juiced, and became the unofficial whistle-blower toward the steroid use in Major League Baseball. Since then, baseball's suffered an endless string of black eyes, with one icon after another emerging disgraced from a swirl of steroid accusations.

Could that be what's in store for hockey (not to mention the NBA)? Probably not to baseball's extent, but still. We're talking about players that spend their offseasons training in foreign countries (with relaxed steroid regulations), a league with questionable testing standards, and a sport where extra strength and speed can make a world of difference.

If Federal Agents start sniffing around the NHL, it may not lead to baseball-level implosions, but there will certainly be some difficult conversations to have.

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