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NFLPA gets behind suspended players

December 4, 2008 | 10:25 am

Kevin Williams, left, and Pat Williams of the Vikings.

So, the NFL players union has filed suit to block five of the six suspensions of players accused of violating the league's anti-doping policy.

The union says the players weren't adequately informed that the supplement they were taking contained the banned diuretic bumetanide, an ingredient not listed on the label of the supplement. The diuretic can be a masking agent for steroids.

The league counters that it sent two notifications that the manufacturer of the supplement, StarCaps, had been added to the list of banned supplement companies. Those letters, the league said, were sent to club presidents, GMs and head trainers, and to NFLPA executive Stacy Robinson, who oversees the steroid policy for the union.

Pat Williams and Kevin Williams of the Vikings, and Charles Grant, Deuce McAllister and Will Smith of the Saints are getting the NFLPA's backing here. Bryan Pittman of the Texans is not included in the suit.

But isn't the real issue here simpler that that? NFL policy couldn't be more clear: Players are responsible for what they put in their bodies. In an age when illegal performance-enhancing drugs have become such a blight on sports, the notion that any athlete would grab a supplement off the shelf without first having it cleared by his trainer defies logic.

A player who fails to closely monitor what he's taking does so at his own risk. And in this case, ignorance would not seem to be an adequate excuse. Now, if the players were told specifically that the supplement was cleared, that's a different matter, but there's no indication of that.

-- Mike James

Photo: Kevin Williams, left, and Pat Williams of the Vikings. Credit: Jim Mone / Associated Press