The NHL announced on Thursday afternoon that Vegas Golden Knights forward Valentin Zykov has been suspended 20 games without pay for violating the league’s performance enhancing substance program.
Along with the suspension, Zykov is now subject to mandatory referral to the NHL/NHLPA Program for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health for evaluation and possible treatment.
The 24-year-old Zykov has appeared in seven games this season, recording two assists while averaging 11 minutes of ice-time per game.
The Golden Knights released a statement in support of the league’s decision.
“We were notified by the NHL and NHLPA that Valentin has violated the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. We monitor the nutrition, supplement intake, and overall diet of our athletes on a continual basis throughout our entire season. Valentin knowingly used a banned substance without the consent, recommendation or knowledge of our team. We support the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program and respect the decision here.”
Zykov also issued a statement via the NHLPA.
“I’ve been informed that I am being suspended for 20 games under the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. While I haven’t been able to discover how I tested positive, I understand that I am responsible for what is in my body and will accept this penalty. I want to apologize to my family, my teammates, and the Golden Knights organization and fans. I will work hard during my suspension to ensure that I put myself in the best possible position to contribute to my team when my suspension is over.”
This is the second time in as many years that a Golden Knights player has been suspended for a PED violation after defenseman Nate Schmidt also missed 20 games a year ago.
In that instance, the Golden Knights strongly disagreed with the results and the suspension. It was reported back in September that Schmidt has been working with the NHLPA to help reform the NHL’s current drug testing program in an effort to raise the minimum standard for suspension. Regarding his suspension, Schmidt argued that an “environmental contamination” was the reason for his failed test, and that the amount that was found was the equivalent of a pinch of a salt in an Olympic sized swimming pool.
Schmidt appealed his suspension only to have it be upheld.
The fact the Golden Knights were so strong in their statement of support for Zykov’s suspension is a strong sign that Zykov does not have the same argument that Schmidt did, and that any appeal would be unlikely to be won.