Canadian Football League Yawns as Player Pleads Guilty to Steroid Possession

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Canadian football player Jordan Matechuk has pleaded guilty to the possession of anabolic steroids and marijuana after being busted with significant quantities of steroids by the United States Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) at the United States – Canada international border.  Matechuk faces up to two years imprisonment on the felony steroid count and up to one year on the misdemeanor marijuana count.

Matechuk played four years with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats team in the Canadian Football League (CFL). He was busted en route to Hamilton when customs officials discovered 543 oral anabolic steroid pills and 262 milliliters of injectable anabolic steroids in his possession. While the large quantities of anabolic steroids could be consistent with heavy personal use over a year, there was much speculation about whether the steroids were destined for teammates on the Ticat football team.

Matechuk’s arrest sent shockwaves through the sports media in Canada but the Canadian Football League and the Hamilton Ticats organization didn’t seem too concerned about it. They declined to administer additional drug testing or conduct any investigation into the matter. Instead, they sent someone from the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports to lecture players about the dangers of steroid use.

Ticats head coach marcel Bellefeuille asserted that the steroid use by Matechuk was an isolated incident and that no one else on the team used steroids. He also stated that he was powerless to do anything else anyway due to the players’ collective bargaining agreement with the CFL.

“There are limitations as to what we can do. It comes down to the collective bargaining agreement and what the league and the players have negotiated,” Bellefeuille said. “If I felt there was an issue, we’d do whatever we can. I care about the players’ health.”

Matt Maychak, the CFL’s communications director, told the press that the CFL doesn’t need to actively investigate either Matechuk or the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He expressed confidence in the CFL’s random testing program to adequately investigate steroid use by players and teams.

“In a sense, we investigate everybody all the time, because we have random testing,” Maychak said. “But beyond that, no.”

The collective bargaining agreement between the players and the CFL specifies that 25% of players will be subject to random testing in 2011 and 35% in 2012. The Canadian Football League (CFL) had previously been the only professional sporting league in North America that had not implemented steroid testing for its players. Former World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound had once called the CFL a “summer camp” for NFL players suspended for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Jordan Matechuk

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