The eight-game suspension of Ravens cornerback Asa Jackson presents an unusual and perhaps unprecedented twist.
Despite issuing through his agent a statement accepting responsibility for the positive test that resulted in an eight-game suspension, Jackson said on Twitter that a team doctor resigned his job and in turn failed to turn in the appropriate paperwork to allow Jackson to take the otherwise banned substance.
Specifically, players must have both a prescription and a therapeutic use exemption in order to consume substances that are otherwise banned.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh didn’t address the question of whether any team employee had a role in the failure to obtain clearance for Jackson to use the substance for which he tested positive, reportedly Adderall. Instead, Harbaugh put the blame fully on Jackson.
“Reaction to that is you got to follow the rules,” Harbaugh said, via the Baltimore Sun. “You don’t follow the rules, you get suspended. That’s a fair rule. There’s really no place for that. He’s getting what he deserves.”
Still, if any Ravens employee committed negligence or malpractice in connection with the failure to get Jackson’s paperwork filed, Jackson deserves at a minimum compensation for the money he’ll lose by missing eight games.
Of course, there’s no way to know whether Jackson’s claim is accurate. The league’s steroids policy prevents the NFL or the team from saying anything about the circumstances of the positive test. It’s possible that Jackson’s story simply isn’t true. If that’s the case, the Ravens have no way to defend themselves because they have no way of correcting the record.
Still, if Jackson is telling the truth, his agent and lawyers would be committing malpractice by not making a claim for compensation from whoever screwed up the paperwork. Absent that effort, it’s hard to take Jackson’s position with anything more than a grain of a tainted supplement.