NHL suspends Sabres F Konopka 20 games
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Sabres forward Zenon Konopka accepted responsibility for testing positive for a banned substance that led to the NHL’s decision to suspend him for 20 games Thursday.
Without revealing what the substance was, Konopka defended himself by saying it was an ingredient found in an over-the-counter product and not used as a performance enhancer.
“I take full responsibility for this error. As a professional athlete, I am responsible for what I put in my body, and I am to blame for this mistake,” Konopka said in a statement he released through the NHL Players’ Association. “Unfortunately, I did not take the necessary care to ensure that the product did not contain a prohibited substance.”
In announcing the suspension for violating the league’s performance enhancing substances program, the NHL did not reveal what substance was discovered in the player’s system or when the test was conducted.
The Sabres have been off for the past month, since they missed the playoffs after finishing the season with the NHL’s worst record.
Konopka’s future was already uncertain in Buffalo because he is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in July. The NHL said the 20-game ban will be enforced once the player signs a new contract.
The Sabres claimed the 33-year-old journeyman off waivers in January after he was released by Minnesota. He had an assist in 23 games in Buffalo, and missed a few weeks of action because of a back injury.
Overall, he has 12 goals and 18 assists in 346 games split between eight teams over nine NHL seasons.