Toronto Maple Leafs forward Carter Ashton has been suspended 20 games without pay for violating terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program.
Statement from Carter Ashton:
“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
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.”
Statement from Brendan Shanahan:
“The Toronto Maple Leafs support the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing
Substances Program and today’s decision to suspend forward Carter
Ashton. At this time, out of respect for Carter and the process
involved, the Club will not comment any further.”
This news certainly comes as a surprise. Ashton was a healthy scratch the first 9 games of the season but has played in 3 straight, averaging 6:09 minutes per game with 3 shots and 0 points. In parts of four seasons in the Maple Leafs organization, Ashton has 0 goals and 3 assists in 50 games played with the big club. From here, the Leafs seem likely to call someone up in the coming days as they only have 12 healthy forwards, with each of David Booth, Brandon Kozun, and Joffrey Lupul still weeks away from returning. For tonight’s game, you can either expect Matt Frattin to re-enter the lineup or see the Leafs dress 7 defensemen (they have talked about wanting to get Stuart Percy back into the lineup).
Another interesting element to all this is that, despite claiming to have taken the banned substance by accident, Ashton will not appeal his suspension.
He is eligible to return December 20th against the Philadelphia Flyers.