Speculation Surrounds Alleged Suspension of Steelers TE Weslye Saunders


It was reported earlier Tuesday TE Weslye Saunders will be suspended for the first four games of the 2012 season, but without confirmation of whether it was for the league’s substance abuse policy (drugs, narcotics, etc) or the league’s steroid and related substances policy (HGH, anabolic steroids, etc.).

There are at least two writers suggesting Saunders’ alleged positive test came not from PEDs or drugs, but rather, a therapeutic drug in which contained an ingredient on the league’s list of banned substances.

Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweeted Tuesday he had information regarding the suspension, and suggested a suspension may be out of line.


Fellow Tribune-Review writer Mark Kaboly had a pair of tweets along the same lines, but much more aggressively.


Kaboly’s second tweet, coming soon after the first, was far more revealing.


The NFL has run into this issue in the past, and with a player currently on the Steelers roster.

As Georgia Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer prepared for the draft in 2010, his agent, Robert London, notified every NFL team his client took Adderall, a medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which is amphetamine salts. London told teams Dwyer’s drug test would come back positive for amphetamines.

As he suggested, Dwyer’s test came back positive. Instead of concealing that information as a therapeutic exemption, which the league considers it to be, provided the player has the proper prescriptions for the medication (which is a Schedule II Controlled Substance in the United States, meaning you cannot possess it without a prescription, and that prescription must be hand-written from a doctor), the information somehow made its way into the public.

Dwyer’s failed test came in the same report and was released to the media in the same way as former USC TE Anthony Davis, who tested positive for marijuana.

Dwyer was thought to be as high as a second-round draft pick in 2010. He fell to the sixth round. Perhaps that wasn’t because of the drug test (his weight was more of a concern at The Combine that year), but the negative attention brought to him certainly didn’t help his situation.

This isn’t to suggest the NFL’s anti-drug rules are inappropriate. It’s the idea it is in the position to potentially and powerfully damage the lives of innocent people. The league should be candidly aware of the amount of media coverage it receives and with that, it has a responsibility to ensure privacy of those matters to the highest level of its ability. He took the appropriate steps to inform the league of the medication he was prescribed, and notified them his drug test would come back positive for amphetamines. The league failed Dwyer, if not from a legal sense, then from an ethical one.

Kaboly and Kovacevic are strongly suggesting Saunders’ case is very similar, if not the same. It’s highly unlikely they would go as far as they did if Saunders had tested positive for something illegal. Plus, amphetamines are covered under the league’s substance abuse policy, which would mean a suspension would be warranted in the event of a third failed drug test by Saunders.

Perhaps the information regarding his suspension was prematurely released from a veteran reporter (Aaron Wilson) who reported Saunders would be suspended. As we’ve written, a player can be suspended for four games (the amount of time Wilson reported) for violating the league’s substance abuse policy for a third time, or for a first violation of the league’s policy on steroids and related substances policy.

If it’s a therapeutic drug, and this is indeed Saunders’ third failed drug test (taking Wilson’s information as accurate), it suggests a lack of communication between the league and Saunders, or a simple situation where the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

The substance Saunders allegedly tested positive for won’t formally be released to the public, we can only look at situations like Dwyer’s when we read such compelling but intentionally vague information from two beat reporters.

All of this suggests there is something boiling under the surface, and perhaps Saunders has something of a battle ahead of him.

Just ask Vikings DT Kevin Williams how far the NFL is willing to go to protect the validity of their drug policies.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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