On Thursday, news surfaced that Bengals defensive end Antwan Odom is facing a four-game suspension for violating the league’s steroids policy. Odom has confirmed that a potential suspension is under appeal, and he has contended (via Twitter) that he did not test positive for a steroid or any other performance-enhancing substance.
Steve Wyche of NFL.com reports that Odom expects to be cleared because the banned element is contained in a prescription medication.
Frankly, we’re not sure it matters. Though Wyche contends that the steroids policy contains a provision “that allows players to take prescription medicines that could contain
banned substances or elements of a banned substance,” we’ve reviewed the steroids policy, and we’ve searched it for every variation of “prescribe” and “prescription.” There’s no language permitting a player to take a banned substance with a prescription.
Instead, the policy states that team physicians “may not prescribe, supply, or otherwise facilitate a player’s use of Prohibited Substances.” Coupled with the absence of express permission to take with a prescription from a non-team physician a drug containing a banned substance, this implies that the “I had a doctor’s prescription” defense doesn’t exist.
Wyche also reports that Odom hasn’t been notified of a suspension, but that’s a matter of semantics. He has been informed of a positive test for a banned substance, and the penalty for a first offense is a four-game suspension. Odom has exercised his right to appeal the finding; if the appeal fails, he’ll be suspended.
For Bengals fans, Odom’s availability will be a week-to-week proposition. Typically, in-season suspensions are imposed on or before the Tuesday preceding a game.
For Patriots fans, get ready to complain about the ability of a “cheater” to play, if Odom ends up with five sacks on Sunday.