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Josh Gordon: Codeine in strep throat medicine triggered suspension

Josh Gordon AP

Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon was suspended two games and fined two additional game checks by the NFL on Friday for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

Gordon has released a statement about the suspension with an explanation for why he was suspended for the league. According to Gordon, the culprit was medication prescribed by a doctor that included codeine.

“In February, I was diagnosed with strep throat for which a doctor prescribed antibiotics and cough medicine. Apparently, the medicine I took contained codeine, which is prohibited by the NFL policy,” Gordon said in the statement. “The policy terms are strict about unintentional ingestion, but the NFL has not imposed the maximum punishment in light of the facts of my case. Therefore, I have chosen to be immediately accountable for the situation. I sincerely apologize for the impact on my team, coaches, and Browns fans. I look forward to working hard in training camp and pre-season, and contributing immediately when I return in week three.”

First-time violations of the substance abuse policy, be they for intentional or unintentional ingestion and unlike violations of the performance-enhancing drug policy, don’t generally result in suspensions. Gordon, who admitted failing a drug test in college and reportedly failed others, was likely already in the program before taking the codeine.

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87 Responses to “Josh Gordon: Codeine in strep throat medicine triggered suspension”
  1. nviverson says: Jun 7, 2013 5:09 PM

    Suspended for cough medicine? Wow. What a league. At least it wasn’t weed like at Baylor. This dude is a beast…I just hope he stays out of trouble.

  2. jdubb84 says: Jun 7, 2013 5:12 PM

    That’s so stupid. My medicine for my wisdom teeth had that in there. The nfl is like law enforcement. Only give a crap about the $$$$

  3. datageek94 says: Jun 7, 2013 5:15 PM

    So what do you think guys – was it actually codeine, or is he misrepresenting this for his public image. If only we knew for sure….

  4. dontasemebro says: Jun 7, 2013 5:16 PM

    Then the doctor should be suspended, knowing he was a professional football player. Right Roger???

  5. mazblast says: Jun 7, 2013 5:16 PM

    At least he’s being a man about it–“I did it, not intentionally but I did it, and I know and will follow the rules.”

    However, I suggest that in all future cases, he tell the doctor in advance, “I’m an NFL player and there’s a lot of stuff I am not allowed to take. I brought a list with me. Unless you’re sure what you’re prescribing doesn’t contain anything on the banned list, don’t prescribe it. If you do and I get suspended again, expect a visit from some very large, very unhappy teammates.”

    This could be one of those rare cases where it’s best to go to the team doctor. If anyone should know what’s OK and what’s not, it’s him or her.

  6. thegreatgabbert says: Jun 7, 2013 5:20 PM

    Recognizing his discomfort, the league gave him a couple weeks off to rest his throat.

  7. brownoholic says: Jun 7, 2013 5:20 PM

    I thought finding out it wasn’t weed would make me feel better…

  8. golfdude65 says: Jun 7, 2013 5:27 PM

    Hey Florio, this is How a real journalist writes an article. He does not accuse the kid of smoking dope before the facts are out you hack….

  9. henryjones20 says: Jun 7, 2013 5:32 PM

    that was funny

  10. mrpresident2 says: Jun 7, 2013 5:32 PM

    What’s the point in enforcing the rules for this? He didn’t do anything wrong. If guys have legitimate evidence it was all a mistake they should drop the suspension.

  11. macjacmccoy says: Jun 7, 2013 5:39 PM

    100% BS. Yes Codeine and Codone and other non performance enhancing medications are banned by the NFL. But only if you do not have a prescription. If he was prescribed a pain medication by a doctor like he claims then all he would of had to do is show the prescription to the NFL or had the doctor let the NFL know that he did prescribe the medication and nothing would have came of it.

    If the NFL kept players from using prescribed pain medication then there wouldnt be an NFL. Without pain medication the amount of punishment the game of football does to a human body would be to severe to play through. They wouldnt be able to keep enough quality players on the field for the NFL product to be viable.

    Yes their are players who arent or havent been on pain medication during their career but they are the minority. Most NFL players have either been on pain medication while healing from an injury or use them daily for chronic pain.

    So if Apler wrote the story correctly and this is truly Josh Gordon’s excuse for his suspension then he has dug himself an even deeper hole by trying to pass such a thinly veiled deception as truth by the general public.

  12. stevietimmy says: Jun 7, 2013 5:47 PM

    Can’t remember ever being prescribed codeine for strep throat. I guess he could have had some kind of chronic cough with the strep (which would admittedly suck). But yeah… anyways…

  13. helinhater says: Jun 7, 2013 5:51 PM

    Sure. And I failed a marijuana test because I went to a party where some hooligans were smoking in the backyard and I happened to inhale a bit of their smoke.

    When you’re from Houston – the sizzurp capital of the world, where DJs created the chopped & screwed effect for music tracks to mimic the feeling of being on sizzurp/purple drank – and you’ve already exhibited a problem passing drug tests, kind of hard to believe the “Woops, my licensed doctor failed to mention what he was giving me” excuse.

  14. 49warriors says: Jun 7, 2013 6:01 PM

    Syrup excuse…Once your throat feels better, there’s no reason to continue ingesting the cough syrup. (months later) Mr. Gordon…
    signed Common sense….

  15. thebigtim2012 says: Jun 7, 2013 6:02 PM

    I find it extremely difficult to buy this excuse. How do you fail for a legally prescribed medication that definitely gets prescribed for that condition. Perhaps the “reporters/columnists” that work for this site can explain that. Does the nfl actually suspend people for getting treatment by a dr? Something doesn’t smell right batman.

  16. bengalguy says: Jun 7, 2013 6:05 PM

    All he had to do was tell the league it was prescribed and show the League his script!!!!! It’s that easy. Shame on Josh Gordon for not knowing the league rules….he got what he deserved!!!!! Stupid is as stupid does Forrest!!!!!

  17. shoeflypie says: Jun 7, 2013 6:08 PM

    Most folks associate codeine with pain treatment. However, codeine is a strong cough suppressant, also. That is why it is in prescription COUGH syrup.

  18. hrmlss says: Jun 7, 2013 6:15 PM

    Strep throat and cough med? Purple Drank? Which one is more likely. Strep is treated with antibiotics and pain meds. Codeine is used now days for cough.

  19. pftfollower says: Jun 7, 2013 6:18 PM

    Weed = cough medicine the same way steroids = adderral

  20. torpedo8 says: Jun 7, 2013 6:20 PM

    So, following this logic, players cannot have pain killers after surgery? If this is, in fact, the case, this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen the nfl do, and that’s saying a lot.

    You can murder people, organize dog fights, but God help you if you get the wrong cough syrup prescribed for you. This is why everyone loves their team and hates the nfl. Pinheads.

  21. motobus says: Jun 7, 2013 6:22 PM

    The NFL’s policy to gain exemption for using a banned substance is more complex than simply providing a doctors note.

  22. peytonsneck18 says: Jun 7, 2013 6:29 PM

    jarmarcus russell is on line #1 looking for the name of his doctor so he can get a prescription also

  23. folkcrusader says: Jun 7, 2013 6:35 PM

    If the prescription checked out there should be no issue. It’s a legitimate medical use for cough suppression. The NFL should not be assuming the role of player physician.

  24. delshofner says: Jun 7, 2013 6:36 PM

    Dude, you gotta get a prescription for ‘Drank’!

  25. imoatravesty says: Jun 7, 2013 6:39 PM

    Total BS. I love how athletes think they can say anything and expect the public to believe them……I guess that’s because we often do. 99% of the guys that get caught are cheating. If this dude had a prescription he wouldn’t be suspended as the players union would be up in arms. I suspect he was drinking the purple drank since he played at Baylor and if my memory serves me correct they be drinking that putrid drink down there.

  26. realdealsteel says: Jun 7, 2013 6:43 PM

    But Ray Lewis takes antler juice, the league knows it from the delivery receipts, but not suspend him?

  27. mattyc says: Jun 7, 2013 6:43 PM

    I have chronic bronchitis. Everytime I go to doc or urgent care, I’m given either Amoxicillin or ZPack & a cough syrup with codeine.

    NEVER has the doctor told me that the cough syrup has codeine. He says simply “I’m giving you an antibiotic & a stronger cough medicine than what you’re taking over the counter”.

    I failed a drug test because of it & had to get a doc note to keep my job, so it isn’t unheard of that a “licensed doctor” doesn’t say that the cough syrup has codeine. For the NFL, these guys should be allowed to show a pharmaceutical prescription of what they were given & when. If it checks out, let them off the hook.

  28. raideralex99 says: Jun 7, 2013 6:44 PM

    Doug Williams on the day before Super Bowl XXII had a six-hour root canal surgery performed (under full anaesthetic) to repair an abscess under a dental bridge … so he would have been suspended if Goodell was the commisssioner back then? I’m sure he took some kind of medication.
    Maybe there should be an * besides the Redskins SB … see what you can do about that Roger.

  29. woodson28 says: Jun 7, 2013 6:44 PM

    If I remember correctly, the Cowboys were considering drafting this guy in the supplemental draft a few years ago. And the reality is that if that had happened this would be a much bigger story nationally and it would somehow be Romo’s fault.

  30. fdugrad says: Jun 7, 2013 6:45 PM

    Something does not pass the smell test. If he had an infection requiring antibiotics and cough medicine with codeine, these meds had to by prescribed by an MD. How can he be suspended for taking medications AS PRESCRIBED?! Could there be some “recreational” drugs ingested as well?

  31. granadafan says: Jun 7, 2013 6:45 PM

    Some of you need your BS meter reset. That was a lawyer-written statement which uses ye olde “unknowingly injested” BS exuse. Use some common sense here.

  32. chc4 says: Jun 7, 2013 6:45 PM

    So everyone believes Josh Gordon’s explanation? If what he was saying were true I would fight it tooth and nail. That he is accepting the punishment tells you all you need to know. This is all public spin. And anyone that believes otherwise is hopelessly naive.

  33. jeremycrowhurst says: Jun 7, 2013 6:49 PM

    If he had strep in January, but tested positive in April, the fact that he originally got the cough medicine legally isn’t much of an excuse.

    That said, what was he thinking? You get a way better high off of cough medicine with DXM….

  34. bigjd says: Jun 7, 2013 6:57 PM

    He needs to take a few classes at the Richard Sherman school for beating drug tests.

  35. myosin10 says: Jun 7, 2013 7:07 PM

    Ya this obviously isn’t his first offense or he is misrepresenting the facts.

  36. karlsummers says: Jun 7, 2013 7:14 PM

    Don’t they teach these kids to read in college? It’s right on the label. Dumas.

  37. ripcurl2121 says: Jun 7, 2013 7:14 PM

    “According to Gordon, the culprit was medication prescribed by a doctor that included codeine.”

    LOL. yeah, ok “josh”

    why wasnt this dog suspended more than 2 games with his history? thats the joke

  38. metrocritical says: Jun 7, 2013 7:17 PM

    He’s lying.

  39. 1rockyracoon says: Jun 7, 2013 7:17 PM

    It may be the codeine talking, but something doesn’t add up. He is losing 1/4 of his salary for what he claims was prescription medicine and he is ok with it. Sounds like he is a repeat offender and is happy the suspension wasn’t longer.

  40. jackblackshairyback says: Jun 7, 2013 7:33 PM

    it may not pass the smell test at first glance, but give it another sniff.

    Players are often prescribed medications that are banned(narcotic painkillers, for example). They can get a Therapeutic use Exemption(TUE) for it, but they have to do that when they get the prescription. If they fail to get a TUE, they can still be suspended.

    If the positive test were for marijuana(or something else), I doubt the league would have let him play, albeit for free, for two games.

  41. nawlinsmitty says: Jun 7, 2013 7:34 PM

    The NFL is about as stupid as the NCAA.

  42. petedutcher says: Jun 7, 2013 7:44 PM

    Contrary to popular beliefs, some meds are banned in the NFL even with a prescription.

    I do think this instance should have been excused though.

  43. immafubared says: Jun 7, 2013 7:47 PM

    Ridicoulousness. Give the guy a break. If he had a prescription, drop it.

  44. wikipediasaidso says: Jun 7, 2013 7:52 PM

    Did the doctor also tell him to suck on Jolly Ranchers to help soothe the sore throat?

    Just a wee bit skeptical. For oh so many reasons.

  45. macker1283 says: Jun 7, 2013 7:52 PM

    Ridding the league anabolic steroids (and I guess HGH although I think its borderline) is worthy of suspensions and fines. But all this other crap like adderall or codeine or whatever, things that are like the same as drinking a few extra cups of coffee is ridiculous. These guys can be pumped full of cortisone and hard core pain killers so they can numb themselves to get back into the game after a 3rd quarter injury, but they aren’t “performance enhancers”. Get rid of steroids because its artificial strength, everything else that isn’t blatant recreational drug use, the NFL or any sports league for that matter shouldn’t have anything to do with it.

  46. salsendardo says: Jun 7, 2013 7:53 PM

    There may be something to this given his suspension was reduced. If it was illegal drugs no way would it be lowered based on this player’s fondness for pot.

  47. painkiller20 says: Jun 7, 2013 7:57 PM

    Josh is obviously hiding something to make his case sound better.
    1. Codeine is likely not a banned substance when used for its intended purpose. How would anyone ever get surgery without any opiate usage? Josh was likely using Codeine well beyond February.
    2. The doctor likely only wrote for a 7 day prescription at max.
    3. Codeine will not stay in your system for very long, so there is no reason for Josh to fail a drug test unless he was tested WHILE he had his Strep throat in February.
    4. He probably didn’t fail due to Codeine in his Robitussin AC in February. He probably failed due to his Promethazine with Codeine that is used in “purple drank” recently.
    Bunch of gullible people if you believe the NFL is handing out suspensions for Robitussin AC. As much as everyone dislikes the Goodell, this story likely has a lot more to it.

  48. patfaninbflo says: Jun 7, 2013 8:05 PM

    And exactly how many championships have the Cleveland CHEATS won since Josh CHEATon got caught CHEATING on his drug test?!?!

    Just kidding. I couldn’t resist, even though that didn’t really turn out as I’d hoped.

    Here’s hoping he tears it up on the field beginning Week 3. Browns fans (and I know a number of them) could use something to cheer about on Sundays.

    How cool, if unlikely, would a Browns-Bills AFCCG be? Shake things up a bit. Or a lot.

  49. istateyourname says: Jun 7, 2013 8:07 PM

    Oh that darn cough syrup!

  50. brownspower says: Jun 7, 2013 8:17 PM

    The dog ate my homework….honest.
    I suspect maybe Josh is misremembering and maybe it wasn’t cough syrup that caused the failed test.

  51. 13arod says: Jun 7, 2013 8:21 PM

    if a doctor gave the medicine to him he shoudn’t be suspented thats like tebow geeting suspented for tebowing

  52. thegreatgabbert says: Jun 7, 2013 8:22 PM

    The codeine was used as a masking agent. To stop the coughing fits Josh was having in his blind. Which was scaring the deer away and depriving him of his velvet extract.

  53. gbmickey says: Jun 7, 2013 8:23 PM

    Truly amazing how gullible people are. The mere fact he was suspended says he has been caught before. As others stated if there was an ounce of truth to this the league wouldnt have punished him and the NFLPA wouldnt stand for it.

  54. skinsfan91 says: Jun 7, 2013 8:32 PM

    He was already in the program for previously failed tests, so this is on him.

  55. edenprairieballer says: Jun 7, 2013 8:41 PM

    Ah yes, the poppy seed muffin defense. Well played Gordon.

  56. tinytim4115 says: Jun 7, 2013 8:53 PM

    College players are bombarded with the message:
    “If something is wrong, go to the trainers first.” and also, “If you are taking any medication, tell the trainers immediately”. This is because the team doctors and trainers are up-to-date with the rules and are certified to know what is okay to take and what isn’t.

    Gordon should have told his team what he was prescribed the moment it was prescribed to him. If players just followed this line of thinking, we’d have far fewer suspensions….

  57. bigdomdog says: Jun 7, 2013 9:06 PM

    He’s from Houston, the mixing codeine in your drink capital… It’s kind of obvious that he didn’t have a prescription and probably had a cup of “drank” out partying one night. He’s a good player and should be able to bounce back though! Go Browns.

  58. slickzmoney says: Jun 7, 2013 9:09 PM

    How is this different from LB Rob Jackson who did the same thing(prescribed codeine) w/ no prior but got the full 4 game suspension?

  59. slickzmoney says: Jun 7, 2013 9:13 PM

    My fault, Jackson took Tylenol w/ no prescription.

  60. diehardtwinsfan says: Jun 7, 2013 9:18 PM

    Don’t know about getting high, but in my own past I’ve used the extra codine cough syrup to help me sleep.

    Truth be told, if he took this with a script and got suspended, the NFL should be ashamed of itself.

    If he’s lying, the NFL should publish what he tested for.

  61. jbeagles23 says: Jun 7, 2013 9:20 PM

    He was already in the drug program meaning he can’t fail anything

  62. cchicinfan says: Jun 7, 2013 9:24 PM

    One of the famous (or should I say infamous)Seahawk suspensions was due to a rookie player taking a prescribed medication that he had been taking since before college. It was prescribed by the team doctor and both the player and the team doctor failed to file the right paperwork for the proper exemption. It is a lot more complicated than just showing the NFL the prescription. However, who is to know what the real story is here as the only person who ever tells what the substance was is the player (and they are always honest, wink, wink). As an employer the league would be sued in a heartbeat if they ever divulged that information.

  63. citiciti says: Jun 7, 2013 9:33 PM

    Dog ate my homework. Jackass!

  64. nickster31 says: Jun 7, 2013 9:38 PM

    As a Steelers fan, I have a hard time being complimentry to any Browns player, byt hats off to this guy.

    I could see how something like this could get over looked. If he would have reported it prior to taking it, there would have been no issue. He took responsibility for his actions and didnt try to fight it.

    And to ANYONE thinking it was more than codine, they wouldnt have given him 2 games if it wasnt a misunderstanding.

  65. jvm127 says: Jun 7, 2013 9:39 PM

    If a player can prove he had a prescription for a legitimate reason there shouldn’t even be a hint of a suspension. That makes common sense but not much the NFL does makes much sense.

  66. jimbo75025 says: Jun 7, 2013 9:51 PM

    A codeine headline and a JaMarcus Russell headline in the same day which are not linked? What are the odds?

  67. abninf says: Jun 7, 2013 10:21 PM

    Can’t a player post his own drug test results for everyone to see what it really was? He should do that.

  68. punksinplay says: Jun 7, 2013 10:32 PM

    Not buying it.

  69. obamareallysucks says: Jun 7, 2013 10:42 PM

    lies like odumbo

  70. mythaimyke says: Jun 7, 2013 11:01 PM

    Another Purple drink man! Is he hanging out with JaMarcus?

  71. bigwinintx says: Jun 7, 2013 11:05 PM

    Codeine is a controlled substance.
    How he got by the doctor, the nurse and the pharmacist without being given a warning label on the medication he was given is a true mystery.

    If he TRULY got the medicine from his physician, then he has to have a prescription for it.
    If he can produce said ‘script, then his suspension would be voided.
    He knows this, his agent CERTAINLY knows it, and if nothing else, the league knows it.

    Produce the prescription from your doctor and from a pharmacy that reports to the DEA and your problems go away.
    Keep lying to the world about “you didn’t know it at the time” and the veil of suspicion will stay with you.

  72. majormeatcurtains says: Jun 7, 2013 11:27 PM

    Dude, some of us are not as stupid as you obviously are. If you broke your ribs and the doctor prescribed Vicodin you would be suspended OR fined. If you had pancreatitus and received morphine nothing would happen. What a crock.

  73. matt24bucs says: Jun 7, 2013 11:33 PM

    I cannot believe you jock sniffers out there really think that this suspension was for strep throat medication! just like all these other violations are for “adderal”. i really think l could sell all of you a bridge in brooklyn–cheap. Morons….

  74. jtm12180 says: Jun 8, 2013 1:16 AM

    This scumbag Goodell needs to disappear forever. Guy is getting suspended for prescription cough medicine for a legit illness….such a joke the NFL, and this support of Gordon coming from a die-hard steelers fan!

  75. bowmanj35 says: Jun 8, 2013 2:25 AM

    horse sheeeeeeit. you tellin me NFL suspends someone that has a prescription med? this guys a joke.

  76. hedleykow says: Jun 8, 2013 2:46 AM

    Stop with the foolishness. Let him play football.

  77. squared80 says: Jun 8, 2013 2:48 AM

    Yes, I agree that it’s kind of rediculous, but in all honesty, it’s his own fault. Players these days have to be smarter than that.

    EVERY SINGLE NFL TEAM has trainers and doctors who can check into ANY medication or pill you are taking to see if it passes the NFL test. It’s easy for every player to do so. CYA, people. Cover Your Arse.

  78. bluntsmokinskinsfan says: Jun 8, 2013 2:52 AM

    Purple drank

  79. randomcommenter says: Jun 8, 2013 2:59 AM

    Codeine works on coughs but how does it work on choking?

    -Peyton Manning

  80. Ridley Me This says: Jun 8, 2013 3:03 AM

    I could be wrong but I thought the rules were you can take subscribed medications on the banned substance list if you tell the NFL first, before you take it.

    Also lots of work places have zero tolerance rules for drugs. I think the fact the NFL took 2 games off the suspension is evidence that his story is true.

  81. lgbarn says: Jun 8, 2013 8:51 AM

    Should have just bought some honey…works better anyway.

  82. garyhd01 says: Jun 8, 2013 10:01 AM

    lets see Gordon goes to the doc, the doc says take this and instead of Gordon saying will it get me in trouble he wants to know if it will get him high figuring its a built in excuse cause the doc gave it to him SORRY it don’t work that way and while this is quite petty there are quite a few folks addicted to codeine my guess is Gordon knew very well what was in the cough syrup and what it would do

  83. tsizzlesucks says: Jun 8, 2013 10:25 AM

    Hey Josh,
    You should listen to BS artists like Sherman in Seattle. He didn’t lose a dime or any time and just by his actions on the field you could see he was on something. So, next time you want to dope up, call him ahead of time for a consult!

  84. JSpicoli says: Jun 8, 2013 11:25 AM

    And his dog dined on his thesis

  85. jackblackshairyback says: Jun 8, 2013 11:50 AM

    OK, let me say this again…

    Players can, and do, get prescriptions for meds that are “banned” by the NFL. They have to apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption. While that sounds pretty simple, the actual process that the NFL requires is lengthy and complex. If the player fails do to so, they get suspended. It’s happened before.

    If the NFL didn’t believe Gordon’s story about prescription cough medicine, then why did they reduce a 4 game suspension to 2? Ask yourself that.

  86. ezekiahjones says: Jun 8, 2013 12:48 PM

    Yo dis fool be mad stoopid son, all prescriptions with codeine in them have it listed in the name (I.e. tylenol with codeine, promethazine with codeine).

  87. doe22us says: Jun 8, 2013 6:18 PM

    4 Game checks ouch that must hurt.

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