A ruling was expected before the start of the 2009 football season. As to the teams involved, the expectations were accurate.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has affirmed in all respects the decision of District Judge Paul Magnuson in the so-called StarCaps case. (Thanks to Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer press for pointing out to us that the decision has been posted on the Eighth Circuit’s web site.)
The short answer to the obvious question of “What the hell does that mean?” is that Vikings defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams will not be suspended four games after testing positive in 2008 for a prescription diuretic that also is a banned substance, and that Saints defensive ends Charles Grant and Will Smith will be suspended for testing positive for the same substance, which secretly had been added to an over-the-counter weight-loss supplement known as StarCaps.
Both Grant and Smith will play this week against the Lions, since the decision came after Tuesday. The suspensions, barring something incredibly unforeseen, will start next week.
There has been talk that the league might allow the Saints to implement the suspensions consecutively, so that they aren’t without both players for four games. Instead, they’d be missing one of them for eight games.
If Grant and Smith serve their suspensions concurrently, the delay will mean that, instead of missing the Lions game in Week One and being available to play against the Giants, the players will be on the field against Detroit but not able when the Giants come to town for the fifth game of the year.
Also, they’d be suspended for the bye week, which lands a week before the Giants game.