HELSINKI — Rarely has Joe Hicketts been under this kind of pressure.
The Canadian defenceman was randomly selected for a doping test by the International Ice Hockey Federation on Tuesday following Canada’s 3-2 shootout win over Switzerland in the preliminary round of the world junior hockey championship.
Unfortunately for Hicketts, it took him over an hour to get the job done.
"I got tested in Victoria in the Western League two years ago and I was able to go right away and I kind of thought I’d be able to do the same thing the other day," said Hicketts on Friday. "You have to pee I think about 100 millilitres and I was short about 10.
"Four litres of water and about an hour later and I was finally finished."
Random drug tests have become a fact of life for elite athletes. Over the course of the two-week tournament, players from every team will be tested by IIHF officials. At the world hockey championship, the samples are tested during the event, but at lesser competitions, including this one, they’re examined afterwards.
So Hicketts’ sample will be tested following the world junior tournament.
"It’s very important. We always wants fair play between the teams," said Dr. Markku Tuominen, the IIHF’s medical supervisor for the event. "Doping, hopefully, is not a problem in our sport.
"But we must always be careful and specifically these young guys we worry about them so we inform them we’re doing the protocols here."
Canadian forward John Quenneville was also tested at the tournament, although he said there was no wait at all for him. Unlike Hicketts, who missed the bus back to his hotel and had to sit and wait with Canada’s team doctor and the official after doing media interviews.
"They follow you around from the time you get off the ice, then if you’re doing media or a cool down type thing and then they watch you pee in a cup," said Hicketts. "Guys tend to get shy.
"I’ve heard some horror stories like eight hours, a couple four hours. They say 45 minutes to an hour is typical."
After making some conversation with the doctor and tester, Hicketts started researching ways to make the experience whiz by.
"There’s cold water, hot water," said Hicketts. "I told our doctor to Google which one would make you pee faster, hot or cold.
"I think I had about four bottles of each trying to figure out what was going to work."
For fans at the Helsinki Ice Hall or Hartwall Arena — the two venues hosting this year’s world junior championship — there’s visible evidence of the IIHF’s commitment to anti-doping protocols: green pucks. During warmups both teams use green pucks with the phrase "Doping is Offside" emblazoned on them.
"After the first game I think the guys were a little shocked to see the green pucks but they’re the same weight, same specs, they’ve just got a green sticker on the top and bottom," said Hicketts. "It shows what the IIHF is trying to do.
"If a puck ends up going into the stands it shows to the fans they’re trying to get ahead of the game in the doping thing. I think it’s a good awareness program."