Ashton Suspended 20 Games

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.

  • T&A4Flames

    It seems more and more likely that Ashton’s days in the Leafs organization are numbered, possibly the NHL entirely.

    It is unfortunate news for him and us as fans that have waited for him to get a fair shot with the Leafs.

    Part of three seasons and the majority of it has been with McLaren and Orr in the NHL, arguably two guys who aren’t hockey players.

    Frattin has been underwhelming and I was baffled by the D’Amigo trade from the get go. I wouldn’t be surprised if we will see 7 defensemen tonight.

  • BubbaLou

    How can you really blame the guy – he borrowed an inhaler from an asthmantic and got slammed. He made a statement practically immediately, apologized, will not appeal – hell the team doctor eventually ‘legally’ diagnosed him for asthma, so he had it anyway. Leafs team docs strike again btw.

    But he’s done everything right since – this isn’t some Lance Armstrong nonsense. It all sounds like a silly incident, done wrong procedurally, blew up like an atom bomb in the kid’s face. This would be a damn shame if it torpedoes Ashton in the NHL, and I would be equally ashamed if our team acts that way about it.

    • tambles27

      One problem here is that, while it’s possible that Ashton really did ingest it by accident – on two separate occasions – it’s an unusual drug for anyone to have at all. It’s not FDA approved and it’s mostly banned in the US and UK, so unless Ashton borrowed an inhaler at a gym from someone with stage 3 bronchitis, a pregnant woman in a difficult labor or a horse, this is a hard truth to sell.

      In humans, the drug itself apparently improves your body’s ability to metabolize fat as an energy source, which improves your BMI, as well as improve central nervous system stimulation, blood pressure, and oxygen transportation (from Wikipedia). Here’s another article on it I Googled:

  • unfortunately for ashton, once this suspension is all done with the leafs will have david booth, brad kozun, and Joffrey lupul back, leaving a very slim chance that ashton dresses at all.

    This sucks, he was actually kinda playing decent hockey

  • CMpuck

    I don’t think Ashton’s career is over. He made a mistake, he is getting punished and his penalty will be paid in full. He might get dogged like Clarkson did for any of his boneheaded penalties.

    But more seriously, I think the test maybe erroneous because anyone watching Ashton game can probably conclude that any performance enhancers is not effecitive.

  • BubbaLou

    As for the “he knew what he was doing the whole time” case, consider first that the majority of suspensions today in the NFL for example fall in the lines of – “I didn’t know that component was illegal/ read the label” kind of mistakes. Pseudoephedrine, for example, is used all over the place in pain meds but will get you just as banned as if you took ‘roids by injection. What stumps me is that Carter Ashton took this at Leafs training camp – seriously, where were our team doctors on this? (They don’t have a great track record on the Leafs already, this is another mark on the dept.)

    Also, consider that when you boil down the facts in his side of the story, you can understand why Ashton’s not interested to fight the case. “Some guy at the gym gave me a magic inhaler with no label”, even if it was a mistake, isn’t a great defense no matter how you spin it.