On Thursday, May 15 it was reported that Buffalo Sabres forward Zenon Konopka had been suspended for 20 games by the National Hockey League for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program.
Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the suspension comes with a mandatory referral to NHL/NHLPA Program for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health for evaluation, as well as possible treatment.
Konopka, 33, was acquired by the Sabres via waivers from the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 3. He played 23 games for the Sabres after the waiver claim, tallying one assist while recording 33 penalty minutes and a minus-4 rating.
Konopka released a statement following the report:
“I deeply regret that I have tested positive for a prohibited substance in violation of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. I accept full responsibility for this error. As a professional athlete I am responsible for what I put in my body, and I am to blame for this mistake.
"I want to make it clear that this violation occurred because I ingested a product that can be purchased over-the-counter and which, unknown to me, contained a substance that violated the program. Unfortunately, I did not take the necessary care to ensure that the product did not contain a prohibited substance. I want to stress, however, that I did not take this substance for the purpose of enhancing my athletic performance.
"I apologize to my teammates and to the Buffalo Sabres organization, as well as to my friends and family. I have learned a great deal from this experience, something I hope to be able to share with younger players. I will accept this suspension and continue to work hard to prepare for the 2014-15 season."
Konopka’s current contract with the Sabres expires on July 1, and the suspension will be served at the beginning of a new contract, whether that is with the Sabres or with another NHL team.