Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Texans linebacker Brian Cushing has been suspended four games for violating the NFL’s policy on anabolic steroids and related substances.
Per Schefter, Cushing appealed the suspension during the Scouting Combine in February but was told today that the suspension has been upheld. He can participate in training camp and the preseason but will have to sit out Weeks One through Week Four of the regular season, missing games against the Colts, Redskins, Cowboys, and Raiders.
It’s the second time in the last five years that the reigning defensive rookie of the year has been suspended for performance-enhancing drugs; Shawne Merriman won the award in 2005 and he was suspended in 2006. Although Merriman was selected to the Pro Bowl after the 2006 season, a rule passed in response to Merriman’s Pro Bowl selection prohibits players suspended during the regular season from being selected to the Pro Bowl.
So Cushing, who was selected to the Pro Bowl after 2009, won’t be a Pro Bowler next season.
Cushing started all 16 games for the Texans after being chosen in the first round of the 2009 draft. Prior to the draft Cushing was the subject of a false report that he had tested positive for steroids at the 2009 Scouting Combine.
UPDATE: Steve Wyche of NFL Network has confirmed the report. ESPN’s Michael Smith points out that Julius Peppers was suspended during his Rookie of the Year campaign, so this has happened three times in eight years. Yikes.