San Diego Charger Shawne Merriman has been suspended by the NFL for testing positive for a banned substance. He is appealing this suspension.
I am definitely against players using steroids. While many are ready to attack Merriman, he does deserve some benefit of the doubt. At least until we have all the facts.
There are rules and procedures which must be followed in order to protect the integrity of the drug testing program. Unfortunately, someone from the team and league leaked information to the ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
On ESPN.com, Mortensen reported team and league sources told him that Merriman's suspension was "definitely for steroids … not one of those supplement deals."
Merriman's attorney David Cornwell correctly pointed out, "Someone breached the confidentiality provision of the NFL's drug policy, which is subject to a $500,000 fine."
Cornwell claims that any steroids that may have been present in Merriman's body was the result of tainted supplements.
Said Cornwell, “(Merriman) has been playing, unwittingly, Russian Roulette with his career, because he has been taking the same supplements and has been subjected to testing and hasn't yielded a positive test. So he thought the supplements he was taking were safe.”
Unfortunately, this is more of a commentary than a defense. Tainted supplements is certainly plausible, but this claim likely won't help Merriman.
The bottom line is the NFLPA agreed that players are responsible for whatever goes into or onto their bodies, knowingly or unknowingly. Even if they're getting a massage, they need to know what is being rubbed onto their skin. Ignorance is not an excuse.