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Williamses suspended

December 2nd, 2008 – 4:12 PM by Judd Zulgad

The four-game suspensions for Vikings defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams have been upheld.

The NFL confirmed the Williams will be suspended without pay for four games.

League spokesman Greg Aiello sent an e-mail saying, “The players violated a long-standing provision of the policy relating to the use of diuretics and water pills, which serve as masking agents for steroids and are potentially dangerous to the health of players.”

Also suspended were three New Orleans Saints players, Charles Grant, Deuce McAllister and Will Smith. Bryan Pittman of Houston was also suspended.

If the Vikings qualify for the playoffs, the Williamses would be reinstated on Dec. 29.

The players all tested positive for bumetanide, a banned substance.

The Williamses’ appeal was heard by NFL executive vice president of labor and legal counsel Jeff Pash, who issued today’s ruling.

Angelo Wright, the agent for Pat Williams, said his client would file a motion in federal court either tonight or tomorrow asking for an injunction that would allow him to play.

The Viking issued a statement saying they were “very disappointed” in the NFL’s decision.
According to NFL.com, the league’s substance policy states that the use of so-called “blocking” or “masking” agents, including diuretics and water pills, is prohibited and that a positive test will not be excused because it results from the use of a dietary supplement that unknowingly contained a banned substance.
When it announced the suspensions, the NFL reiterated the section of its policy that reads:

“You and you alone are responsible for what goes into your body. Claiming that you used only legally available nutritional supplements will not help you in an appeal. … Even if they are bought over-the-counter from a known establishment, there is currently no way to be sure that they contain the ingredients listed on the packaging or have not been tainted with prohibited substances …

“If you take these products, you do so AT YOUR OWN RISK! For your own health and success in the league, we strongly encourage you to avoid the use of supplements altogether, or at the very least to be extremely careful about what you choose to take.

According to The Associated Press, David Cornwell, the lawyer for the three New Orleans players, called the decisions “inconsistent with the objectives of the steroid policy.”

“Deuce, Will, and Charles did not try to enhance their performance with steroids, nor did they knowingly expose themselves to the adverse health risks of a diuretic,” Cornwell said in an e-mail. “They took a weight loss supplement that they had every reason to believe was safe.”

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