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July 25, 2006 -- Accusations of players being "juiced" is no longer confined to professional baseball.

Former NHL tough guy Andrei Nazarov claims "99 per cent" of enforcer-type players use steroids, while a large proportion of players in general are using some sort of performance-enhancing drug, writes James Christie of the Globe and Mail.

Nazarov, now retired and believing he has nothing to lose, became the NHL's version of Jose Canseco when he spoke to the Russian newspaper Sport-Express last week.

"It has always been a problem for the young heavyweights," said Nazarov. "You have the boxing technique, the energy, but you lack the mass. The easiest way to get heavier is to use special chemicals."

Phoenix Coyotes tough guy Georges Laraque told Sportsnet it's not an issue anymore and people shouldn't pay attention to what Nazarov has said. "The NHL showed that we have nothing to hide (in testing) every player and every team twice," said Laraque. "(Nazarov) is not even playing in the league anymore." Former teammate Brad May, speaking on the FAN 590 radio station, echoed the same sentiments, saying Nazarov's claims are baseless.

"I have to believe it's somebody spouting off," said May. "There were (1406) drug tests this year and not one hockey player was found using any performance-enhancing drugs.

"That's stupid for someone to come out and say that, but everyone's got their own opinion."

May, who said that Nazarov was a great teammate and "one of his favourite guys," did admit that players have not been completely immune.

"Have there been tough guys using steroids? Absolutely. But (that many) there's no chance."

Nazarov for his part said he is not surprised nobody has been caught, believing it's due to players being informed ahead of time when to expect a test.

"All the players were informed about the date of the doping tests four months before," insisted Nazarov. "As a result, the players stopped using chemicals some six, eight weeks before the x-day and all of them were proved clear."

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was adamant that is not the case.

"I don't know what drug program he's in, but he's clearly not in ours," said Daly. "There was no advance notice to any of the players as to when the testing was to take place."

Nazarov played in the NHL for 12 seasons, scoring 53 goals and drawing 1,409 penalty minutes in 517 games for seven different clubs.

World Anti-Doping Agency president Dick Pound, who claimed before the season that as many as one third of NHL players were taking some sort of performance enhancer, has already responded to Nazarov's comments, saying "it's good some of the players are prepared to speak out on the subject."

It probably won't be long before Pound brings his full weight on the subject.

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Hmm... well... don't know what to say. I didn't even know he retired.

As for the drugs... I don't know. I need to be as sure as I am about the MLB, but I'm not there yet.

Then again, he said 99 percent of "enforcer-type" players, not exactly the whole league. That would still be terrible if it were true at all.

No doubt some are taking drugs, but hopefully not as many as he says.

Pound will put in more word on this, that's for.
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