Waterloo suspends football for steroid scandal

The University of Waterloo in Ontario has suspended its football program for one year following the biggest steroid investigation in Canadian university history.

Ontario university officials halt program 1 year after 9 potential infractions

The University of Waterloo in Ontario has suspended its football program for one year following the biggest steroid investigation in Canadian university history.

An investigation by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) has revealed nine potential anti-doping infractions by members of the Warriors football team.

It followed the arrest of Warriors receiver Nathan Zettler for possession and trafficking of anabolic steroids in March.

Zettler was suspended from football, and Waterloo officials then called for the entire team to be tested.

Out of the 62 urine samples, the CCES reported nine potential infractions.

Four players admitted to steroid use. Three others tested positive, while another simply refused to be tested. The ninth case is pending an additional police investigation.

'Significant doping issue'

In a release, Marg McGregor, CEO of Canadian Interuniversity Sport, called the investigation the "most significant" doping issue in CIS history.

"This situation illustrates that the CIS doping control program needs to be strengthened to ensure a level playing field and protect the rights of the vast majority of student-athletes who respect the rules and compete clean."

The CCES also conducted blood tests, but the results are not yet available. Blood tests can determine the presence of human growth hormone.

Team members were informed of the suspension Monday morning, and later addressed a news conference at the university's athletic centre. 

"The university said they dealt with it in a way that will set an example," fourth-year wide receiver Dustin Zender told The Canadian Press. "Unfortunately, that example ruins some of the lives of our players here. And because of the actions made by some — who weren't smart — it now affects players who did the right thing."

CBC Sports' Teddy Katz spoke with several players at the media event.

Some questioned the justification of punishing an entire team for the actions of a few, while others expressed concern about their future as athletes or sympathized with their teammates who are accused of cheating.

Officials from the CIS and the university suggested that the issue of performance enhancing drugs reaches well beyond the Waterloo campus, Katz said.

Coaches on paid leave

Waterloo head coach Dennis McPhee and assistant Marshall Bingeman have been placed on paid leave from football duties while the university conducts a full review.

"This in no way prejudges the coaches. Rather, as a matter of process, it is important that the coaches are not active in the program while the review is conducted," the school said in a statement.

The CCES did not identify all the players in its release.

First-year linebacker Jordan Meredith tested positive for the cancer-fighting drug Tamoxifen, a prohibited substance in university football that is commonly used by athletes as part of a post-cycle treatment to combat the side-effects of steroids.

Meredith has waived his right to a hearing and acknowledged he committed a doping infraction. He will be suspended for two years.

Joe Surgenor, a second-year linebacker, admitted to use of a steroid at the time of CCES testing and accepted a two-year ban.

The Warriors posted a 3-5 record last year to finish tied for sixth with Guelph in the 10-team OUA standings. They didn't make the playoffs.

with files from The Canadian Press