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Berard tested positive for banned substance

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Blue Jackets defenseman Bryan Berard tested positive for a banned substance in a pre-Olympic test, but it will not affect his NHL eligibility, his agent said.

Berard's agent, Tom Laidlaw, said the defenseman failed a test
given to him after his name was submitted by the USA Hockey as a
potential Olympic participant, The Columbus Dispatch reported
Friday.

Berard wasn't chosen for the team that will compete in next
month's Torino Games.

Laidlaw said the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency will comment on the test results Friday. Berard also will make a statement, he said.
The Blue Jackets are scheduled to play the St. Louis Blues at home
Friday night.

Invited to the U.S. Olympic evaluation camp this past summer, Berard reportedly underwent a drug test in November. The results came back positive for nandrolone, an anabolic steroid that is on the International Olympic Committee's list of banned substances, the TSN of Canada reported, citing undisclosed sources.

USADA general counsel Travis Tygart declined to comment Thursday, and Blue Jackets spokesman Todd Sharrock said the team
wouldn't say anything until an official announcement is made.

The NHL began testing for performance-enhancing drugs last week
for the first time after the league and the players' association
came up with a plan in the new collective bargaining agreement that
ended the season-long lockout.

Since the test Berard failed wasn't part of NHL testing, he
won't be subject to league discipline.

According to the NHL testing plan, a first-time offender would
be suspended for 20 games. A second positive test would result in a
60-game ban, while a three-time offender would be kicked out
permanently.

Berard was a member of the U.S. Olympic team in 1998 but wasn't
selected in 2002.

He signed a two-year contract with Columbus in August after
playing nine seasons for the Canadiens, the Rangers, Bruins, Blackhawks and Islanders.

In 550 NHL games, the 28-year-old defenseman has 68 goals and
225 assists.

Berard was the NHL rookie of the year in 1997 with the Islanders
and won the Masterton Trophy in 2004 for best exemplifying the
qualities of hockey. He was severely injured in March 2000 when he
was hit in the eye with a stick. He missed the rest of that season
and the following one and still has reduced vision in the eye.

In the 2003-04 season, Berard had 13 goals and 34 assists with Chicago, giving him more points than any other Western Conference
defenseman.

The Associated Press and SportsTicker contributed to this report.