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Columnist accuses Ovechkin of performance-enhancing drugs with stunningly little proof

Dec 5, 2011, 12:09 PM EDT

Alexander Ovechkin AP

From the “throw stuff at wall, hope it sticks” file: John Steigerwald — author of the infamous “That Giants fan had getting beaten into a coma coming to him” piece earlier this year — has suggested Alex Ovechkin‘s recent decline is because he’s not on performance-enhancing drugs anymore.

From the Washington (Pa.) Observer-Reporter:

There are whispers and maybe even some out-loud conversations around the hockey world about Ovechkin’s problem being a lack of artificial help.

In other words, performance-enhancing drugs.

The guy was superhuman when he first came into the league. He had the hardest shot anybody had seen in years. Goalies around the league talked about how it was different from everybody else’s shot.

He’s taking about half as many shots as he used to.

Here are the main propositions that led to Steigerwald’s theory:

1) Ovechkin’s doctor was charged with bringing PEDs over the border from Canada.

2) A Washington D.C. chiropractor was investigated after he bragged about supplying steroids to members of the Capitals and Washington Nationals.

3) The same doctor who had Ovechkin as a patient also treated Tiger Woods.

4) In his autobiography, Georges Laraque said steroids were commonplace in the NHL and that many players quit doing them prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics, because Olympic drug testing is much tougher than the NHL’s.

I haven’t seen such reliance on hearsay and conjecture since Lionel Hutz sued the creator of Itchy & Scratchy.

In the spirit of making (and debunking) conspiratorial accusations, PHT offers up the following:

1) John Steigerwald is the brother of Paul Steigerwald, play-by-play man for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

2) Ovechkin’s competed in four IIHF World Championships — which also have stringent drug testing — in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010. (Puck Daddy’s Dmitry Chesnokov notes Ovechkin got tabbed for a random steroid test in 2010.)

3) The PED/Tiger Woods doctor reference is to Dr. Anthony Galea. Good luck trying to find anything beyond message board material linking Ovechkin to Galea.

4) John Steigerwald is a sports columnist for a community paper covering two counties in Pennsylvania. The paper website’s current front page story is four local high school students singing Christmas carols for a rotary club fundraiser.

Let me ask you: Does this publication sound like it’s privy to super-insider scoops about incredibly famous athletes?

  1. govtminion - Dec 5, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    “This is Chewbacca… he is a Wookie. That makes no sense, so you must acquit!”

    • michiganhockey11 - Dec 5, 2011 at 12:19 PM

      I love the Chewbacca defense!!!!!!

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 5, 2011 at 2:10 PM

        “Look at the monkey. Look at the silly monkey”

  2. pens919209 - Dec 5, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    Rest assured that in Western PA, no one takes John Steigerwald (or the play-by-play homerism of his brother on Penguin games) seriously. No one with any sense, at least.

    • abrienza428 - Dec 5, 2011 at 12:22 PM

      Yeah, seriously. What a stupid article. I heard this on the radio last week (just speculating), and this guy probably grabbed it to write an article and cause a stir.

      Also, Paul Steigerwald taking over play-by-play from Mike Lange was the worst decision ever made.

      • pens919209 - Dec 5, 2011 at 1:14 PM

        The whole “Root Sports” presentation is blatant homer-ism, which is probably perfect for the Pittsburgh market – it supports all of the conspiracy theorist morons who think that no matter what, everyone is out to get the Pittsburgh sports teams.

        Find WFRB-AM online and turn it on when the Penguin starts – pause the stream for about 3 seconds – and enjoy a hockey night in Pittsburgh the way it should be.

      • matthewmacisaac - Dec 6, 2011 at 9:19 AM

        I’m a Flyer fan from NY, so I have to follow them on Center Ice and that means I usually get the other teams feed. I’m glad to see the Penguins fans rip their broadcast crew. Steigerwald/Errey are neck and neck with Edwards/Brickley as the worst in the league. The homerism of these two teams broadcast crews is sickening. With both teams being very talented, there is plenty to cheer and their fans should not be subjected to these whiney pieces of sh*#. Most teams have decent crews but these guys should be shot for ruining games with their innaccurate, biased commentary. The fans are smarter than the broadcast teams.

      • pens919209 - Dec 9, 2011 at 3:18 PM

        Aside from Mike Lange, I’ve always enjoyed listening to Mike Emrick do play-by-play – he’s very knowledgeable about the game and just has a great announcer’s voice.

        And I couldn’t agree more on Edwards… I have a harder time listening to him than I do Steigerwald.

    • blastfurnaceknows - Dec 5, 2011 at 3:11 PM

      There have been whispers and certainly some out-loud conversations in the Pittsburgh area that John Steigerwald became a sportswriter for the primary purpose of being able to gaze at athletes’ junk in the showers without anyone casting apsersions. I also heard the younger the better for John. Then there was that hobo-decapitation spree someone once said he participated in . . .

      Seriously, I hate Ovechkin, but John Steigerwald is as inauthentic a tool as there ever will be and his rep in Pgh is just below that of a sewer rat, which, incidentally, I heard he likes having over a bed of lettuce for lunch.

  3. Stiller43 - Dec 5, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    I dont know if thats an accusation as much as passing along rumblings and grumblings he’s heard.

    And one does have to wonder what has changed in the guy going from a terror 60+ goal scorer to less than a point a game player. He’s only 26 so it shouldnt be age. The same talent (backstrom, semin, johansson, etc.) Is still in place…wasnt the result of a coaching change (although it did result IN a coaching change)…

    One has to wonder, and hell, maybe it is PEDs…

    • abrienza428 - Dec 5, 2011 at 12:32 PM

      I doubt it. My guess is defensemen have figured out Ovechkin too much, and he hasn’t really changed his game accordingly. That’s all, and I think he dealt with some nagging injuries last year.

      • odj810 - Dec 5, 2011 at 4:59 PM

        exactly. Limit his time and space and don’t let him get a head of steam going and he’s very much containable which every good defensive team has now done.

    • stakex - Dec 5, 2011 at 12:40 PM

      Ovechkin is certainly not the only top player in history to hit a snag for a year or so in their career. So to say that “Well… it could be PEDs” is ignorant. Its far more likely its a confidence problem.

  4. jpelle82 - Dec 5, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    i said the same thing a couple weeks ago, without any hard evidence its just speculation but still makes for an interesting conversation.

  5. gregman98 - Dec 5, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    Mr. Halford: Check that episode of The Simpsons:

    Lionel Hutz WON the case against the creators of Itchy & Scratchy.

    • Mike Halford - Dec 5, 2011 at 12:37 PM

      I know he won (representing Chester Lampwick). The famous line — for me, anyhow — was this:

      Judge: Mr. Hutz, we’ve been in here for four hours. Do you have any evidence at all?

      Hutz: Well, your Honor, we’ve got plenty of hearsay and conjecture, those are KINDS of evidence.

    • michiganhockey11 - Dec 5, 2011 at 12:49 PM

      Yes he did, as a result of a cartoon sketch that Mr. Chester Lampwick created prior to Robert Myers Sr. creation of Itchy and Scratchy.

  6. stakex - Dec 5, 2011 at 12:52 PM

    This is clearly a bias “sports writer” (hah), writing an article based on nothing. Most of the “talk” he refers to is just random internet BS, and the rest of the the “out loud wispers” are likely coming from his idiot brother (whos one of the worst play by play annoncers in history btw).

    Look, there is no doubt Ovechkin is having a whole lot of trouble right now. However there is nothing even close to proof that points to steriods as the reason. If idiots want to speculate about it on internet forums… go ahead. Put such talk in the same section as Roswell and the 9/11 Conspiracies. However people who call themselves reporters and sports writers shouldn’t dip into such rumors with zero proof.

    And why would Ovechkin taking half as many shots (hes taking half as many shots as his career high, but not his career average) have anything to do with steroids? They don’t make you shoot more, and Ovechkins shot seems as hard as ever…. hes just missing the target with it. On that note, steriods don’t make your shot more accurate either. Hence another issue in the roids argument for Ovechkins: Most people over state exactlly what roids can do for a hockey player.

    • jpelle82 - Dec 5, 2011 at 1:36 PM

      defenders are closing their legs to block his shots…he’s been figured out, its not that he isnt trying them still. the old dog needs a new trick

  7. pens919209 - Dec 5, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    One has to wonder… if Ovechkin were on steroids before the 2010 Olympics and stopped taking them then, why wouldn’t he have gotten back on them after the Olympics were over to regain his competitive edge?

    Maybe he’s hit the wall mentally and physically; maybe he’s injured; maybe teams have stepped up their tactics in defending him, but steroids just don’t make any sense in this equation.

  8. govtminion - Dec 5, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    The problem isn’t that he’s been on ‘roids. It’s that he became predictable and disgruntled. He wasn’t enjoying the game anymore- whether that’s because of getting the captain role, Boudreau, just burned out, whatever, he obviously hasn’t been enjoying the game the way he used to. But… a part of THAT even is that he’s a one-trick pony. Every time he enters the opposing zone with the puck, it’s the same play every time- cut up the middle, turn left to shoot. And guess what? When it’s all you do, eventually teams figure that out- so now he always has a defenseman guarding his favorite move. He hasn’t adapted.

    So is that because he’s unmotivated? Is he unmotivated because his trick isn’t working anymore? What’s the problem? We don’t know. At the end of the day though, I would be very shocked to hear that it had anything to do with steroids or anything of the sort.

  9. stevefromsacto - Dec 5, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    It’s a pity Alex can’t file a lawsuit charging this clown with libel.

    • jpelle82 - Dec 5, 2011 at 2:20 PM

      why? so he can make even more money for doing nothing?

  10. drewsylvania - Dec 5, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    He might be on roids or whatever. But this guy sure doesn’t know.

  11. watermelon1 - Dec 5, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    One trick pony? Defenders have figured him out?

    Please, people.

    I’ve seen Ovechkin score just about every single way you can. And defenders haven’t “figured him out” so much as they just know that they can pretty much focus their entire defense on him because none of the other Capitals pose a threat!

    His problem is his team isn’t that good! The goalies have played horrible this season. Still don’t understand the Volkoun signing when Neuvirth and Holtby looked so promising last year. The defense has always been bad. I never thought Mike Green was good on defense, but at least he could help with the scoring a bit when Ovechkin was focused on.

    What I find funny is, I don’t see opposing teams focus on Sidney Crosby nearly as much. Two seasons ago, it seemed like the NHL had an unwritten rule that Crosby must be left unattended around the goal. He was always banging in rebounds with no defender near him. Yes, he’s a great player… but I’ve never seen a team’s best player be left unguarded so often. It certainly doesn’t happen to Ovechkin.

    Anyway, that’s Ovechkin’s biggest problem. His team is not very good. With that said, they’re bound to start playing better. They can’t really play any worse than they have been. If they traded Mike Green and Alex Semin 2 years ago when they were “hot” for some real defense, this team would probably be much better off. Hindsight is lovely.

    • drewsylvania - Dec 5, 2011 at 4:04 PM

      Ovechkin had a huge dropoff in production from 09-10 to 10-11, and it seems that the same is happening this year. That can’t be all, or even mostly, on his teammates, since they’ve been mostly the same during that time period.

      Notable exception is Mike Green, but still…

  12. danphipps01 - Dec 5, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    If he’s loaded with performance-enhancing drugs… why is his performance not enhanced?

    Come on, somebody had to say it.

  13. garys79 - Dec 5, 2011 at 6:40 PM

    Steigerwald has exceptional sources. If he writes it then someone that knows has told him it is true.

    He has covered sports for 40+ years. He has covered every major sporting event for national organizations from Super Bowls, Stanley Cup Finals to the Oylmpics, multiple times.

    • babykaby - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:27 PM

      Not sure but is this the same guy that got caught having sex with his 14-year-old babysitter and supplying her with drugs while his wife was in the hospital having their third child? No proof, but I thought I heard something.

  14. blastfurnaceknows - Dec 6, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    Steigerwald ONCE covered major sporting events. Steigerwald ONCE was a semi-connected Pittsbrugh sports broadcaster. Steigerwald NOW writes for a two-bit local newspaper. Steigerwald NOW has ostracized both local and national sports personalities and media alike. The difference between Steigerwald THEN and Steigerwald NOW is that his mask fell off a number of years ago and exposed him for what he is – a colossal douchbag of a fraud whose only emotional gauge is systematic hate and who should not be at all surprised that is what he NOW receives in return. To imply that he is currently somehow connected, because he once “sort of, kind of” had a source or two (he never was known for “exceptional” sources), is to show you don’t know a thing about Steigerwald or his rep NOW.

  15. ballsohardu - Dec 6, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    Coming from the brother of the worst play by play guy in hockey…. Cool..

  16. drillsetc - Dec 11, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    Very irresponsible journalism!

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