Dryden McKay, the Minnesota State goaltender who won this year's Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA's top player, has accepted a six-month ban from competition for an anti-doping rule violation, according to the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
The period of ineligibility began on April 14, which was the date he accepted the sanction. McKay played his final NCAA game for the Mavericks on April 9, losing 5-1 in the Frozen Four national championship game to Denver.
"This experience has been a very unexpected and difficult matter for me and my family," McKay said in a statement. "I am remaining optimistic and looking forward to beginning my pro career in the fall."
McKay told ESPN that he was notified on Feb. 1 that a urine sample collected on Jan. 23 returned a positive test for ostarine, a muscle growth drug that's not approved by the FDA and is considered a banned substance by the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee National Anti-Doping Policy and the International Ice Hockey Federation Anti-Doping Regulations.
The amount was trillionths of a gram, which McKay said provided no direct performance benefit.
The 24-year-old goalie was being drug tested after having been named an alternate player for the 2022 U.S. men's Olympic hockey team for the Beijing Games. McKay's services ended up not being needed.
McKay suspected that the ostarine could have been sourced from one of the supplements he had been taking. He shipped them all to a lab for testing. He said ostarine was found in an allegedly "all-natural" Vitamin D3 immune booster he had been taking for 10 days during the COVID-19 omicron variant surge.
"During USADA's investigation into the circumstances of the case, USADA received results from a WADA-accredited laboratory that a supplement product McKay was using prior to sample collection, which did not list Ostarine on the Supplement Facts label, was contaminated with that substance at an amount consistent with the circumstances of ingestion and his positive test. The Code provides the opportunity for a substantial reduction in the otherwise applicable period of ineligibility in this circumstance," said USADA in its ruling.
Because McKay was able to establish the source of the contamination, an arbitrator lifted his suspension on Feb. 3 until a final decision by USADA would be made. The NCAA and Minnesota State athletics were made aware of the situation. The NCAA made its own ruling that McKay was eligible to complete his senior season with the Mavericks, leading them to the school's first Division I men's hockey Frozen Four championship game appearance.
"I knew (the ruling) was going to be after the season, just because of the timeline," McKay said.
In the process, he won the Hobey Baker Award, after setting NCAA records with 37 wins and 34 shutouts this season.
He then accepted the six-month suspension on the advice of his lawyer, Paul Greene.
"Typically the range (for a non-intentional ingestion) is somewhere between four-to-eight months or four-to-10 months, depending on the situation," Greene told Sportsnet. "They offered him six months, which is in-line with a lot of cases I've been involved with. He had a decision if he wanted to accept the six months or go forward to a hearing. We just decided it made the most sense to accept the six-month ban. Let the process start now that his season was over."
McKay had decided he would turn pro after this NCAA season. He wasn't selected in the NHL draft and is a free agent. He told ESPN during the Frozen Four that NHL teams haven't pursued him because he's only 5-foot-11, at a time when goalies who physically fill the net are preferable. The USADA ruling further complicates his timeline for a first pro season.
"I'm still trying to figure (my future) out, and hopefully soon," McKay said. "Oct. 11 is the next game I can play, and I can start practicing in August."