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Nate Schmidt Suspended For 20 Games For Violating Performance Enhancing Substance Program

Yikes. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The NHL announced this morning that Golden Knights top defenseman Nate Schmidt has been suspended for the first 20 games of the regular season for violating the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program.

Per NHL rules, Schmidt will also be forced to miss all eight of the Golden Knights preseason games. He is however permitted to participate in training camp activities with the team.

The Golden Knights wasted no time strongly condemning the league for a suspension they believe is unwarranted. This statement was released just one minute after the league announced the suspension.

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. -Golden Knights Official Statement

Schmidt released a statement of his own as well via the NHLPA website. In it, he explains that he has already appealed the suspension.

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 Golden Knights 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

Schmidt’s agent also released this statement regarding the suspension.

In my 30 years of working in NHL circles, Nate Schmidt is one of the most honest caring individuals I have ever dealt with. He is full of character caring most about faith, family and team. He would never risk his principles by taking performance enhancing drugs. There was no intentional use of a banned substance which is backed up scientifically. He is innocent and this is a wrong decision. -Matt Keator, Nate Schmidt’s agent

Schmidt is the first NHL player to be suspended under this program since March 9th, 2016 when Arizona Coyotes prospect Jarred Tinordi was suspended. Shawn Horcoff, Zenon Konopka, and Carter Ashton have all been suspended since 2014 under the policy as well.

This is Schmidt’s first offense against the Performance Enhancing Substance Program. A second offense would result in a 60 game suspension and a third offense results in permanent suspension (with the ability to apply for reinstatement after two years).

Per the agreement made between the NHL and NHLPA as written in the CBA, the name of the substance that caused the failed test is not to be released.

Schmidt will be eligible to return to the team on November 18th at Edmonton.

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  1. Steve T

    Stunned !!! Hard to put into words my feelings on this news. If what Nate saying is true,why the 20 games suspension?

  2. Matt

    This is ridiculous due to the amount found in his system. I understand protocol and due procees but they will appel this decision. I feel like there areonly a handful of options if the suspension stays put. A. We have to make a trade (our D withouth Schmidt is a bit nerve racking to think of after his performance in the playoffs. B. This give Brannstrom an opportunity to see what the NHL will be like and could gain some valuable experience in Schmidt’s absence. C. Deal with the consequences and move on for 20 games and get a great addition back.

    • Jeff

      So if the suspension should be based on how much was in his system, at what point…how much can he have in his system before it’s not ok in your opinion?

      The rules are the rules. This is a huge black eye for the Knights organization. He got what he deserved.

      • Derp

        Enough to not be caused by environmental or accidental contamination and enough to actually enhance his performance. Definitely more than the margin of error for the drug test.

        7 billionths of a mg per ml is like consuming a drop of beer by eating beer battered onion rings and you arrested for DUI.

  3. Keith Magnuson

    7 billionths of a mg/ mL = pinch of salt in an Olympic sized pool and it’s an automatic 20 games. That’s insane. I sure hope the NHLPA fights to adds some limits during the next contract negotiation. Huge jump in leverage for Shea. This just plain sucks on lots of levels.

  4. BattleBorn88

    I know Nate already appealed but what is the appeals process and is there any possible way to overrule the appeal?

  5. Ron Murphy

    ” Hello, Pierre…..this is McPhee…yeah, about Karlsson…”

  6. Justin

    I assume being “prohibited from participating in all club activities” means he can’t practice with the team until November? That’s rough.

    • A Fan

      It says right in this story:

      “Per NHL rules, Schmidt will also be forced to miss all eight of the Golden Knights preseason games. He is however permitted to participate in training camp activities with the team.”

  7. Rick Hixenbaugh

    There’s obviously something wrong with the NHL/PA PES process. Nate Schmidt wouldn’t cheat…PERIOD !

  8. Bob

    I think the question is how do players keep this from happening to them? Why Nate he is one of the hundreds of players who this could happen to. To not give specific details, in my opinion, hurts more than it helps. We are the fan and we are the ones who make our decision who to follow, like, admire etc. Personally, Nate seems like the most unlikely player to bend rules or even come close. Something put him in this position and that something is not known.

  9. Vgk4life

    Ridiculous. Schmidt comes across as an honest individual and if the amounts being reported are true, I’d have to question the legitimacy of the 20 game ban for the reported offense.

    Regardless I’m sure he will be return to fine form for us this season and continue on from last season. Keep your head up 88!

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