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Habs' Theodore tests positive for masking agent

Montreal Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore had a smile on his face when he met the reporters gathered around his stall in HSBC Arena's visiting locker room.

His wet, stringy bangs fell into his eyes. Hair flowed over his ears and the collar on his blue shirt. His sideburns were trimmed low.

"I like to keep it long, as long as possible," Theodore said Thursday night after dressing as the backup for the Canadiens' 3-2 overtime triumph over the Buffalo Sabres.

A few hours earlier the Canadiens held a news conference to explain why the former Vezina Trophy winner had tested positive for a steroid masking agent, which is illegal.

Theodore, 29, claimed he failed a random International Olympic Committee drug test because he has used the hair-growth stimulant Propecia for several years. He denied having taken steroids.

"If you look at me with no shirt, if I'm taking steroids then I should change the guy that's selling them to me because it's not working," he joked.

Theodore is listed at 5-foot-11, 182 pounds.

"One of the side effects of Propecia is that it serves as a masking agent," Canadiens physician David Mulder said. "Once this drug is taken internally and it's metabolized and appears in the urine, it allows that individual who's taking it to perhaps mask the use of serious steroids, in particular androgenic steroids, in particular nandrolone. . . . It doesn't mask anything else."

Mulder, the doctor who performed the sports hernia surgeries on Sabres forwards Daniel Briere and J.P. Dumont, added Propecia, "on its own merits has no performance-enhancing abilities. It simply grows hair."

Even though Theodore isn't competing in the Olympics, he was subject to IOC testing because he was on Canada's preliminary roster. The random test was performed Dec. 14, and the Canadiens were informed of the result Jan. 14.

The NHL announced it would not punish Theodore because the IOC conducted the test and not the league.

Theodore is appealing the IOC's positive test result and has begun the application process to have a "therapeutic use exclusion" for Propecia. If victorious on appeal he would have remained anonymous.

"I don't feel I have anything to hide," Theodore said.

"It's not something I got on the black market. It was prescription from the doctor for eight years. So I don't feel uncomfortable."


Sabres rookie Paul Gaustad returned after missing one game with an illness and centered a busy fourth line with Taylor Pyatt on the left and Jiri Novotny on the right.

"I thought they were our best line," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I tried to get them more ice time. I thought they came out at the start of the third period and set the tone. They did what they needed to do. They put in a very determined effort and played a pretty smart, physical game for us."

Novotny moved up to center the line between Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville after Jochen Hecht was knocked out of the game 8:31 into the third period with a sprained knee ligament. Hecht will be sidelined about two weeks, wiping out the Olympics (for Germany) for him.


Read the following note with caution.

Sabres defenseman Teppo Numminen, with zero goals 30 assists, will relinquish the record for most points without a goal if he ever scores this season. The record officially still belongs to Jimmy Thomson, who had 28 assists without a goal for Toronto in 1947-48.

Yet according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Numminen would break the record for most points without a goal from the start of a season if he scores after April 18 (and nobody else has a higher point total without a goal by then).

For the record, Florida Panthers defenseman Jay Bouwmeester has zero goals and 27 assists, but he's more likely to score a goal than Numminen. Bouwmeester has taken 125 shots to Numminen's 43.


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