Sabres` Konopka banned 20 games for doping

New York: Buffalo Sabres forward Zenon Konopka has been suspended for 20 games for violating the NHL`s anti-doping programme, the league said Thursday.

In a brief statement, the league didn`t reveal the substance in question, saying only that the Canadian player had violated the terms of the NHL/NHL Players Association joint performance enhancing substances program.

Konopka issued a statement through the players association accepting responsibility and saying that the substance was in an over-the-counter product he used.

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

Konopka, 33, was already facing an uncertain NHL future. He is due to become an unrestricted free agent in July, and the NHL said his suspension would begin after he is signed to a new contract.

Konopka, who played this season for the Minnesota Wild and the Sabres, totaled a goal and two assists in 59 games.

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