When news surfaced this morning that Broncos linebacker Von Miller is facing a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, we noted that something out of the ordinary must have taken place: Usually, a first suspension under the league’s substance-abuse policy is for four games, while a second suspension is for a full year. A six-game ban would represent an unusual middle ground.
Now we have some idea of the unusual circumstances that may have led to the NFL planning to give Miller more than the normal four-game ban for a first suspension. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that when Miller went to give a urine sample to the drug tester, it was spilled. When Miller then came back later to give the drug tester another urine sample, that sample was found to be diluted.
It’s possible, of course, for those things to happen innocently. Someone could drop a bottle of urine accidentally, and a player’s urine could be diluted simply because he drank a lot of water. But the NFL makes clear that a positive drug test isn’t the only way to violate the substance-abuse policy. Failing to produce a testable sample when asked to submit to a drug test can also be considered a violation.
That’s something Miller should have known, because one of his teammates, D.J. Williams, was suspended six games last year under similar circumstances. The league said Williams twice provided a substance other than human urine for his drug tests, then was seen attempting to pour something from a bottle hidden in his waist band into his urine sample.
Now Miller is facing a similar accusation, and may face the same six-game suspension.