Laurier football team tests clean

On Tuesday afternoon the football players of Wilfrid Laurier University were finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. A month after Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) officials tested 67 Golden Hawk football players for performance enhancing drugs, 67 tests came back clean.

“It’s not something that I thought of all the time, but I guess it was something that was always there,” said Laurier manager of football operations and head coach Gary Jeffries of the pending results.

“It’s such a relief to get the results that I always knew we’d get and I couldn’t be more proud of the team. I’m just so happy for them and now we can put it to bed and move on.”

Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) football has been in the midst of a crackdown on steroids ever since nine players tested positive at the University of Waterloo (UW) last March.

This led the university to make the unprecedented decision to suspend its football program for the season.

Those tests at UW marked the first time that the CCES tested the majority of a single team’s roster during the off-season, previously leaning more heavily upon random unannounced testing of a handful of players from different teams.

However, those UW tests were prompted by former UW football players Nathan Zettler and Brandon Krukowski being charged with intent to traffic steroids.

The tests at Laurier were the first truly random, unannounced large-scale tests in recent years; however, there was speculation that the school’s proximity to UW played a role in the decision to test at Laurier.

“Obviously things got magnified with what happened at UW and with us being down the street people may have thought we were connected,” said Hawks wide receiver Shamawd Chambers, who was among the 67 Hawks tested. “But we aren’t connected at all, we all knew no one in here was on steroids.”

While the pressure of the pending test results could very well have weighed on the Hawks’ minds, according to Chambers, they were never an issue.

“I can’t speak for everyone, but for me I was fine,” he said. “I knew that I wasn’t on anything and I knew that my friends weren’t on anything either. We just wanted to get it over with and move and here we are.”

These drug tests marked the latest in what has become a recurring theme of potential off-field distractions for the Golden Hawks over the past seven months. From the questions surrounding the late transfers of nine UW players in late summer to the eligibility concerns of defensive end David Montoya, which ended up costing the Hawks a win, to the recent news that only one of the nine former UW players will be able to play at Laurier again next year, it has been a rocky time for the purple and gold.

“To be honest, a lot of people probably thought we were really stressed out with everything that’s been going on off the field but all we’ve ever cared about or focused on is football,” said Chambers.

“Football is a stress reliever for me and I’m guessing it is for the 73 other guys on this team, so the best thing we could do was just keep going.”

The CCES is expected to make an announcement along with Laurier later on today regarding the test results.

In other steroid-related news, the University of Calgary has confirmed that 60 football players were tested at a team training session two weeks ago, marking the first set of “mass tests” outside Waterloo region.