It was only a matter of time before the American Hockey League (AHL) implemented drug testing for its players. Players who play in the second-highest level of professional hockey in North America are now subjected to the same testing guidelines and regulations as seen in the National Hockey League.
The league announced earlier this week that the program will begin this season, and it was a joint effort between four organizations: the NHL, AHL, NHLPA and the Professional Hockey Player’s Association. The PHPA represents AHL players in collective bargaining with the league.
The players in the AHL will be subjected to two random tests per season, with one of them being a team-wide test. The random player tests can happen at any time. Should a player fail a test the first time, players are subject to a 20-game suspension without pay and immediate referral to the NHL Substance Abuse/Behavorial Health Program for evaluation, education and treatment. A second suspension carries a 60-game suspension, while a third positive test will lead to permanent suspension from the league, in which the player can apply for reinstatement after two years. Test results are kept confidential until the appeal process is heard by an independent arbitrator and disciplinary actions are handed down. Salaries forfeited by players will be used to defer costs with entering the Substance Abuse/Behavorial Health Program.
The statement issued by the league also stated that the same doctors who oversee the Performance-Enhancing Substances Program and the Substance Abuse/Behavioral Health Program will head the AHL program.