The NFL’s PED program, aimed at catching cheaters, continues to catch anyone but cheaters, if we believe the statements coming from the players who have been suspended.
Joint statements issued early Tuesday by cornerback Orlando Scandrick and his agent, Ron Slavin, paint the picture of a player who accidentally ingested during a Mexican vacation a banned substance that would not have resulted in a suspension at all, if the NFL and NFLPA had reached agreement on HGH testing.
“I would like to apologize to my children, my family, the Jones Family, my coaches, my teammates and my fans,” Scandrick said. “Failing a drug test is far out of my character, and although I never knowingly took a performance enhancing drug/banned stimulant while on vacation in Mexico, I take full responsibility for what goes in my body and more importantly for the embarrassment of a failed drug test.
“It’s my goal by issuing this statement to clear my name and more importantly to be judged by what happens to me in the future. I hope that my family, my Cowboys football family and all my fans can forgive me for this situation. I look forward to a successful 2014 season.”
If Scandrick truly hopes to clear his name, he needs to disclose more details about what he took, why he took it, where he got it, and why being in Mexico has any relevance. Otherwise, his statement reads no differently than the litany of “yeah I tested positive for PEDs, but I’m not a cheater” excuses that have flowed from every player suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season for violating the policy.
Slavin takes a different approach, arguing that Scandrick has been both suspended and stigmatized not because of whatever happened in Mexico, but because of what has failed to happened between the league and the union.
“I do not excuse Orlando having tested positive for a banned stimulant,” Slavin said. “The current rules are what they are, and a player is responsible for what is in his body. However, I would like it known that it is my understanding that if the current proposed agreement related to HGH testing would have already been instituted, a very significant percentage of the players receiving ‘PED’ suspensions since the new CBA took effect would not have been suspended. Instead, these players, under the proposed new policy, would have been subjected to the Substance Abuse Policy and Program. More than 80 missed games, millions of dollars in fines and bonus repayments have been issued because the NFLPA and NFL cannot come to an agreement. The only people who are losing in this standoff are the players and fans.”
Slavin has a point. In May, Commissioner Roger Goodell pointed out that 21 of 104 cases under the PED program since August 2011 would have been referred to the substance-abuse policy in lieu of a suspension, if an agreement on HGH testing had allowed the broader drug-testing policies and programs to be finalized. Previously, NFL senior vice president of labor policy and government affairs Adolpho Birch said that substances like Adderall could move from the PED policy to the substance-abuse policy under revised programs and policies.
The end result for Scandrick, as for every other player suspended this year under the PED policy, is that although the PED policy covers steroids, the players didn’t take steroids or otherwise intend to cheat. If every player is telling the truth, a policy aimed at catching cheaters has failed miserably.