When a report came out that a steroid seller in Lakeland Florida sold substances to players in the Washington Capitals, they Caps did what they do best; they went on the offense.
The Caps released a statement early in the afternoon and players were quick to shoot down the allegations. Pending any real proof, the Capitals seemed to have their affairs in order from the top of the organization to the players themselves.
"We're not worried because I don't think any of our guys have done it or have tested positive for it," Brooks Laich told Tarik on his blog. "[One,] the last two seasons we've been tested three times each, which is the maximum allowed. Two, we're not worried because he hasn't specified whether it was 10 years ago. He said he's been selling for 10-plus years. He just threw a name out there and knew the media was going to run with it."
The man who made those allegations is sitting in a Polk County jail tonight on ten counts of steroid possession with intent to distribute, ten counts of importing illegal steroids and one count of maintaining a residence for drug sales. He also had a number of assault rifles and weapons that were seized in their residence.
"Richard Thomas told Sheriff's narcotics detectives when he was asked if he had sold steroids to professional athletes, 'Name the sport - if they played it, I sold it,'" a Polk County Sheriff's report claimed. "Then Richard Thomas went further and specifically mentioned two professional sports teams from the Washington D.C. area whose players he had sold steroids to - the DC Nationals baseball team, and the Washington Capitals hockey team."
But the Caps were quick to deny the charges starting with a radio interview with Donald Brashear. Brash was scheduled to be on the Big O and Dukes show on WJFK 106.7 FM as a guest before the story broke. He was quick to deny any knowledge of the allegations.
"I would really doubt it," Brashear responded to a questions on whether he thought there were any Capitals that were doping. "I mean, I would really doubt it. I don't know. It's a tough position; it's hard to say, I mean, maybe there is and we don't know the ones that are doing it. They wouldn't necessarily tell us."
The NHL does drug testing on players three times a year and they are unannounced tests. Recently Mike Green told the Washington Post about the experience. Players must pee in a cup in the presence of the testers. Because of the randomness of the tests, players play it safe.
"If someone was doing it, he would come in at the end of the summer looking huge," Laich was quoted on the Washington Post blog. "And you would have already written a story about it, 'Jeez, he looks great. Look how big and fast he is.' But by midseason, he would have shrunk down again because we have testing. There hasn't been any of that. So as far as I'm concerned, it's just a rumor and it doesn't concern any of our present guys."
The Caps released a statement by Dick Patrick, the Capitals President. He was quick to dismiss the charges.
“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," Patrick said in a statement. "Capitals players have fully participated in the NHL’s random drug testing program, and at no point has a Capitals player tested positive."
Capitals' owner Ted Leonsis also responded to the allegations on his blog:
"I hope you all understand that while there is research and investigating going on that we will have to be silent as we cooperate and hope to exonerate our team and players from these allegations. Thank you for understanding."
The Caps jumped on the story quickly and for the moment control the debate on the issue. But a long investigation will proceed these statements, made both by law officials as well as the NHL will look into the allegations. Bill Daly, Deputy Commissioner for the NHL released a statement.
“Even though there are no specifics provided in the story and we have no reason, at this point, to believe the allegations are true," the statement read. "The National Hockey League takes all matters of this nature very seriously and will conduct a prompt investigation.”
It will take time to sort out the charges. Answers may not come until deep into next season.