Carter Ashton has been suspended for 20 games for violating the terms of the NHL/NHL Players’ Association Performance Enhancing Substances Program.

Depending on how you see it, it’s a tough break or a dumb mistake for a player trying to solidify his place in the lineup after getting a chance with the injury to Joffrey Lupul.

Ashton’s Statement

“I suffered an asthmatic spasm in late August while in a training session getting prepared for the 2014-15 NHL season. One of the other athletes I was training with gave me an inhaler in order to help open my airway, which provided me with immediate relief from my asthma attack. I kept this inhaler and used it a second time early in the training camp upon experiencing another asthma episode. Unfortunately, I incorrectly assumed that there were no problems associated with the use of this inhaler and I used it without checking to see whether its contents were permissible under the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program.

I now recognize that I ingested Clenbuterol, a prohibited substance, through the inhaler. However, at no time was I seeking to gain an athletic advantage or to knowingly violate the terms of the program. I used the inhaler in response to exercise-induced asthma, a condition that my doctor with the Toronto Maple Leafs has since diagnosed and he has prescribed me with an inhaler.

As a professional hockey player, I recognize that I am responsible for what I put into my body, and I will not appeal my suspension. While I am extremely disappointed that I have let my teammates, our fans and the Maple Leafs organization down, I will work very hard during my suspension to stay in game shape so that I can help out the team when I am able to return.”

Salary Cap Implications

According to Article 50.10(c), Player Salary and Bonuses that are not paid to such Player shall not count against a Club’s Upper Limit or against the Players’ Share for the duration of the suspension, but the Club must have Payroll Room for such Player’s Salary and Bonuses in order for such Player to be able to return to Play for the Club.

It does not appear to free up a spot on the Active Roster, and it looks like he still counts against the 23- man limit.
– Elliot Saccucci

Why no appeal?

It’s conjecture on my part, but I don’t think he’s appealing because the requirements of Article 47.9 state that it is strict liability, I.e. Intent doesn’t matter, and the only defences are: a therapeutic use exemption; collection error; testing error; or that the player could not reasonably ascertain how the substance entered his body (I.e to guard against someone sabotaging a player).
Since Ashton seems to clearly know how and why the drug showed up, it seems to preclude any of those defences, and even though it was an honest mistake, intent doesn’t matter.
– Elliot Saccucci

Team Release

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Carter Ashton was suspended 20 games without pay Thursday for violating the terms of the NHL/NHL Players’ Association Performance Enhancing Substances Program.

Ashton will forfeit $169,185 in salary and under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement the suspension is accompanied by a mandatory referral to the NHL/NHLPA Program for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health for evaluation and possible treatment.

“The Toronto Maple Leafs support the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program and today’s decision to suspend forward Carter Ashton,” Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said in a statement. “At this time, out of respect for Carter and the process involved, the club will not comment any further.”

For further reading, please see: Legal Look: Ashton’s 20 Game Suspension


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