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Zenon Konopka tests positive for banned substance, suspended

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Zenon Konopka appeared in 59 games last season with Minnesota and Buffalo. (Getty Images)
Zenon Konopka appeared in 59 games last season with Minnesota and Buffalo. (Getty Images)

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Buffalo Sabres forward Zenon Konopka was handed a 20-game suspension by the NHL on Thursday for violating the terms of the Performance Enhancing Substances Program.

As a result of this suspension, he will also be required to go to the NHL/NHLPA Program for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health.

Konopka released a statement through the NHLPA:

"I deeply regret that I have tested positive for a prohibited substance in violation of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. I accept 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.

"I want to make it clear that this violation occurred because I ingested a product that can be purchased over-the-counter and which, unknown to me, contained a substance that violated the program. Unfortunately, I did not take the necessary care to ensure that the product did not contain a prohibited substance. I want to stress, however, that I did not take this substance for the purpose of enhancing my athletic performance.

"I apologize to my teammates and to the Buffalo Sabres organization, as well as to my friends and family. I have learned a great deal from this experience, something I hope to be able to share with younger players. I will accept this suspension and continue to work hard to prepare for the 2014-15 season."

Ah, the dreaded over-the-counter illegal substance. At least Konopka is owning up to his mistake and isn't disputing his actions and culpability in this situation. Whether or not you believe his explanation, he sounds like he'll take his punishment and move on.

Konopka is a free agent this summer so this suspension will follow him to wherever he might sign, though that's not going to help his case in getting a new contract very much. He was probably already on the fringe for a new deal and at 34, this makes his search a lot tougher.

He is best known for his pugilistic skills, racking up 1,082 minutes in penalties in 346 career NHL games to only 30 points.

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