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.