A source with knowledge of the situation tells us that the appeal hearing arising from the four-game suspensions of Saints running back Deuce McAllister and defensive ends Charles Grant and Will Smith lasted until midnight on Tuesday.  And, based on a statement released by lawyer David Cornwell, the marathon session apparently contained some fireworks.
The case comes down to the question of whether the Saints players will be suspended for taking StarCaps, a weight-loss supplement that was spiked with Bumetanide, a potent diuretic and a substance that the NFL has banned.  StarCaps doesn’t disclose Bumetanide as an ingredient, and the company that distributes StarCaps has “temporarily” suspended shipments due to lawsuits filed by Saints guard Jamar Nesbit and Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jackson. 
Cornwell contends that Dr. John Lombardo, the administrator of the NFL’s policy regarding anabolic steroids and related substances, testified during the hearing that he learned in late 2006 of the presence of Bumetanide in StarCaps.  Lombardo, per Cornwell, did not share this information with NFL players, because Lombardo feared that other players testing positive for Bumetanide would claim that they were taking StarCaps, even if they weren’t.
Says Cornwell:  “Dr. Lombardo’s failure to disclose what he knew about StarCaps may have exposed NFL players to the significant health risks associated with the unintentional ingestion of diuretics.  If Dr. Lombardo had notified NFL players that StarCaps contained bumetanide, Will, Deuce and Charles would have never used the product to lose weight.”
Assuming that Cornwell’s characterization of the testimony is accurate, the Saints players apparently have turned the tables on Lombardo, making it very difficult for the league to suspend these players, or any other players who are facing suspensions for taking StarCaps, including Vikings defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams.


  1. only have the lawyers side of the story here so far…every lawyer will spin it so their client(s) appear to be not guilty..that’s what they do…i myself will wait to see what the nfl actually says about it…have heard they are on the list and have heard they are not on the list so will just wait and see what actually happens…what is odd is the remark of finding it back in 2006 and supposedly the fear of not telling anyone cause everyone would say they were taking it,even if they weren’t…well it is now close to the end of 2008 so why would they just sit on the info about this being in starcaps and not do nothing ,if what Cornwell is saying is true

  2. Wait…the NFL maintains and distributes a list of approved supplements, correct? And if StarCaps wasn’t on that list, as they maintain, I fail to see what case the players have. They chose to go off the approved list to get their weight-loss supplements. As a result, they are responsible for what is in their bodies, regardless of intent.
    The only recourse is to sue the manufacturer, as the one Saint did.

  3. Wow.
    So, if this is true. . .the league
    a) knew that they had players taking these StarCaps
    b) knew that said StarCaps contained a banned substance
    c) didn’t bother telling anybody
    And now they want to suspend players for using them after neither the manufacturer NOR the league gave anyone a heads-up on the matter.
    Get up, get get, get down. . .Roger Goodell is a joke in your town.

  4. So wait, let me understnd this. They knew in 2006 that Starcaps contained a banned substance and did not tell the players who inquired on the ‘NFL Steroids Hotline’? What did they tell them when they inquried?
    Sounds like entrapment to me. What dopes.

  5. How big of a decision would if be if for some reason the NFL does rule in favor of the players in this case? It’s one thing to have suspension overturned for an illegal hit or an off the field incident, but testing positive for a banned substance? I know Henry got off on a technicality last season but that wasn’t the NFL’s decision, anything else ever occur like this?

  6. Isn’t there a hotline for these players to call? If you call it they would probably tell you not to take it. Why not try dieting and exercise to lose weight? You are already exercising, right? The only other reason to take the stuff is to mask the presence of steroids. Take steroids, take starcaps, get caught taking starcaps, claim ignorance, flush your system of steroids during the appeals process, get off without punishment. I bet these guys knew there was a tie after overtime.

  7. Uhh…am I missing something? From my understanding StarCaps was not on the list of approved substances by the NFL. If that’s the case, I thought the NFL was VERY clear that you are on your own no matter what once you take something that’s not on the list. If that’s the case, see you in 4 weeks!

  8. Cornwell could not help Reggie Bush out, but looks like he may win a case for a New Orleans Saints player(s).

  9. The smarter move might have been for Lombardo to notify the league and let them release an immediate announcement to players to stop taking StarCaps, no exceptions, but not tell them why. Anyone who tested positive for bumetanide could then be required to produce proof that they were taking StarCaps. Failure to produce that proof would result in a suspension.
    In fact, I think players ought to keep records of what supplements they take just for this purpose. Anything they can do to remove doubt would be beneficial.

  10. There is a hotline that players can call, but per Bernard Berrian he called that hotline twice and never received a call back.

  11. If Dr. Lombardo knew StarCaps contained a by prescription only ingredient two years ago, as a Doctor shouldn’t he have made the FDA aware of this. If he had we could be using this space to make fun of NFL players real misdeeds.

  12. Hypothetical situation. A player gets chocolate muffins from his favorite bakery. One day the baker accidentally gets some poppy seeds from the poppyseed muffins mixed into the chocolate muffins. The player doesn’t realize this, eats the tainted muffins, gets tested and flags positive for an opiate. Totally plausible scenario. This can actually happen.
    What’s the league’s policy on this? That the player should know what he consumed? Does that sound reasonable? Think of the amount of things you consume over a year. How many of these things would be on the nfl sanctioned list? Probably not a lot. In fact it’s ridiculous to assume most of the things you consume even have a manufacturing process so stringently consistent that testing could be done on them (imagine testing your wife’s cooking). This is one blatantly obvious problem with the policy.
    Then there’s the question of intent. It’s funny that people argue that it doesn’t matter, and yet in a court of law intent actually does matter. Is the league so callous and singleminded that it thinks it can ignore intent? Nazis might agree with this mentality, the rest of the world probably wouldn’t. Sorry, intentional ignorance of context as a policy because you’re afraid of opening up a hornets nest is the cowards way out. The world is complex, deal with it.
    Finally what does this have to do with the big picture? The reason for testing in the first place is to prevent athletes from taking performance enhancing and recreational drugs. Testing for perf. enhancing drugs makes sense as a way to ensure the integrity of the game. So rather than trying to have a half-assed policy that can be gamed by knowledgeable athletes and trainers, how about just testing more? Test every few weeks all year long. That would avoid the need to ban things not directly related to giving the athlete an unfair advantage. And it would have avoided all of these problems. Again, the league shows that it prefers courses of action that are easier over those that are accountable, which is exactly the opposite of what they demand of the players.

  13. Assuming that is true, I dont know that Lomabardo holding back the info make the players any less responsible as far as their case, but, his withholding info should probably get him fired.

  14. VonC:
    1. If there are 40 muffin shops approved and sanctioned by the NFL as being “kosher”, and the player decides that he’s going to patronize another muffin shop, than it’s the players fault if the baker slips other ingredients. Remember, the player went out of his way to use a supplement to either lose weight or mask banned substances and didn’t use a sanctioned one. That’s just dumb.
    2. The NFL isn’t a court of law. Intent doesn’t matter. If it did, can you imagine a single NFL player not claiming innocence by way of ignorance. Guys shooting HGH could tell the NFL that they thought they were getting a flu shot, insulin, or anything else. The fact remains that they used a product which wasn’t approved as being cleam. And my opinion, which doesn’t matter, is that since football players subject themselves to strenuous exercise daily and the known dangers of diuretics, nobody is taking them to lose weight. Again, that’s my opinion. The league has a policy in place to remove opinion from the equation.
    3. As a masking agent, diruetics ARE potentially substances that directly allow for a competitive advantage.
    Really, the only alternative is to let players take whatever they want as far as supplements go, since they’re so hard to police. I don’t think Congress would stand for it, but it would solve the problem.

  15. I think the problem stems from the fact that Duece had the Star Caps officially tested several years ago and they were o.k.’d by the league. The manuacturer added this new ingredient and did not list it – therefor, we have the current problem (and lawsuit).

  16. If that’s the case, then I would agree the players are not responsible. But to my understanding, the league denies ever approving StarCaps.

  17. >>The Other White Meat says:
    November 19th, 2008 at 2:49 pm
    I think the problem stems from the fact that Duece had the Star Caps officially tested several years ago and they were o.k.’d by the league. The manuacturer added this new ingredient and did not list it – therefor, we have the current problem (and lawsuit).<<
    Right, but the operative words there are several years ago.
    It’s my understanding that it was never formally lab tested. He basically had the league compare the listed ingredients on the bottle of StarCaps to the list of banned substances. That’s not the same as saying the league approved the use of StarCaps.
    Regardless of the outcome, someone is going to be unhappy. I think the only choice the league has is to stick to their policy and suspend them and let the players recoup lost wages in court. Again, players know the risks of taking supplements that aren’t on the leagues approved list. By doing so, they have to accept those risks and whatever punishment may come as a result.

  18. The NFL’s list of approved substances is only EAS suppliments. Because EAS offered the most for the contract. Look it up.

  19. Deuce sent star caps to the NFL in and they were ok’ed.
    PHIL SIMMS: He (Deuce McAllister) is the only player that we can confirm that is in a problem with the NFL, and we sat down with Deuce McAllister yesterday in a production meeting. He was very forthright and stern about the situation. He says, ‘look, the product that I tested dirty for, I sent to the NFL four years ago. They tested it. They sent it back and they said it is fine, that it’s nothing illegal about it.’ Of course, Deuce McAllister has hired a lawyer to help him in this appeal process. When you hear this information, as we heard yesterday from Deuce McAllister, you understand why he’s upset and is going to appeal this suspension by the NFL

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