One of the more troubling aspects of the slowly-unfolding StarCaps trial is that the NFL has admitted that others who tested positive for the banned substance that secretly had been added to the over-the-counter supplement were not punished.
On Thursday, NFL V.P. of labor law and policy Adolpho Birch testified that Dr. John Lombardo should have subjected all persons who tested positive to discipline, and that Birch set Lombardo straight on this matter in December 2006.
“I was telling him that the policy as it relates to
supplements, matters of inadvertent use are violations and subject to
suspensions and must be referred,” Birch said, according to Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Regardless of the given reason, the fact remains that players were treated differently. The reality of inconsistent treatment prompted the league to decide during the 2009 season not to suspend Saints defensive ends Charles Grant and Will Smith for the same offense, despite obtaining full legal clearance to do so. So if the league was concerned about the perception of inequity then, the league also should have been concerned about the reality of inequity when abruptly changing course regarding its approach to StarCaps — especially since the league gave no one a clear warning regarding the fact that the product had been spiked with a prescription medication.