Report: Derek Boogaard played after failed drug tests, failed 14 times in final six months of his life

During the final six months of his life, Derek Boogaard failed 14 drug tests, according to a new report. Boogaard, who died in May 2011, was allowed to continue playing after failed tests. A complaint filed by his father has one the league’s substance abuse program co-founders under investigation.
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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

A complaint filed against Dr. David Lewis by Len Boogaard, the father of deceased former NHL winger Derek Boogaard, has led to an investigation by the California Department of Consumer Affairs, according to a report.

TSN’s Rick Westhead reported Friday evening that Lewis, who was one of the co-founders of the NHL and NHLPA’s joint Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH), is being investigated because Boogaard’s father believes doctors “failed in their medical and ethical obligations” to Boogaard after allowing him to continue playing after he failed or missed multiple drug tests. Westhead’s report states that following Boogaard’s release from a rehab facility in 2010, he was repeatedly in violation of the terms of an agreement he signed upon his release.

“Boogaard’s repeated violations included testing positive for opiate and stimulant drugs, admitting to making illegal purchases of narcotics, and for missing randomly scheduled drug tests, according to copies of Boogaard’s medical records obtained by Len Boogaard through the U.S. federal law known as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act),” Westhead wrote.

Boogaard’s father claims his son “faced no fines, sanctions or other penalties,” according to Westhead. All of those punishments would have been up to the doctors overseeing the SABH, which in Boogaard’s case would have been Dr. Lewis and Dr. Brian Shaw.

In all, Boogaard failed 14 of the 19 drug tests he took in the final six months of his life, according to Westhead. Boogaard missed a drug test in January 2010 stating he was on a road trip with the Minnesota Wild, which a doctor wrote was untrue, and that missed test was followed by three failed tests spanning from early November to early December 2010, Westhead wrote. Both doctors wrote in January 2011 that Boogaard said he was “illegally purchasing the opioid pain reliever oxycodone,” Westhead reported, and the then-New York Ranger refused to enter a rehab facility.

Boogaard died May 11, 2011, as the result of an accidental overdose caused by mixing alcohol and the painkiller oxycodone. He was 28.

“He fell under the care and control of the substance abuse program,” Len Boogaard told TSN. “They had a duty to care and look after him… there was no need for my son to die. All the checks and balances were in place. The substance abuse program says these doctors are tasked with enforcing the sanctions.”

Westhead reported potential changes to the SABH are being reviewed by the NHL and NHLPA following a third-party examination of the program. At present, the program is confidential, and no details of treatment are made public to the league or players’ union.


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