Halfway through the season, the Michigan Gray Wolves seem to be cruising toward a playoff spot and a strong shot at capturing their second Vandy. Their otherwise marvelous season hit a speed bump today, however, as C Wesley Knight was hit with a 15-game suspension after failing a test for performance-enhancing drugs.
The 28-year-old Knight tested positive for an anabolic steroid called Tetrahydrogestrinone, or THG. THG is a well-known drug, allegedly used by high-profile athletes from Barry Bonds to Marion Jones. The steroid’s primary purpose is to assist with the building of muscle mass, which allows athletes to participate in more rigorous workouts and recover more quickly from injuries or intensive training.
“We have a no-tolerance policy for drug abuse in this league,” said SHL Commissioner Perry Mitchell in the press conference announcing the suspension. “No matter who you are or how good your team is, if you’re using PEDs, you’re going to be caught and you’re going to be punished.
Knight is in his fourth season as Michigan’s third-line center. He has been struggling this season – generating only 1 goal and 7 assists so far this season – and has seen his ice time steadily decrease as the season has gone on. He acknowledged that he started taking PEDs this season in hopes of getting back to his usual production.
“It’s been tough for me this year, so tough,” said Knight. “I’ve just been looking for any way I can to turn things around. And I took a stupid shortcut, trying to get better. I’m so embarrassed and humiliation. I apologize to my teammates and the fans. This is completely on me.”
Wolves coach Ron Wright condemned Knight’s PED use. “There’s no excuse for that kind of thing in this game, none,” Wright told reporters. “Hockey’s a tough sport, and you’ve got to be in good condition to play. PEDs are an easy out, for players who don’t want to put in the work. Wes is a good player and he puts in the work, which makes this so disappointing. I’d expect a lot better out of him. I’m just really disappointed, that’s the bottom line.”
At the All-Star Game earlier in the week, rumors were swirling that a Michigan player had failed a drug screening and was about to be suspended. Many of the whispers centered around LW Vladimir Beruschko, who has had a surprisingly strong season at age 35. After Knight’s suspension was announced, Beruschko stood up for his teammate.
“All of our team likes Wes,” said Beruschko. “He made a mistake, but all of us make mistakes sometimes. He was a man to admit it and take responsibility. He has to serve the suspension, but when he comes back, we will all welcome him back. We have a job to do together, to win the championship.”