Next Friday, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman will attempt to overturn his four-game suspension for violation of the league’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Sherman has two separate arguments.
First, and as initially reported by Mike Garafolo of USA Today, Sherman claims that he drank from the water bottle of a teammate that had been spiked with Adderall. The teammate has both a prescription and a therapeutic use exemption, allowing the teammate to ingest Adderall, which contains amphetamines.
Sherman has denied that account in text messages sent to Curtis Crabtree of KJR, who works part-time for PFT. However, we’ve confirmed Garafolo’s account.
Second, Sherman believes there were flaws in the method of obtaining his urine for testing.
It’s unknown whether both arguments will actually be advanced at the hearing. Given that the two contentions are somewhat inconsistent (i.e., “I accidentally ingested it” and “the testing methodology generated a false positive”), Sherman would be wise to pick a horse.
The problem is that both horses likely will lose. As to the water-bottle excuse, it won’t matter. Players are responsible for anything that is in their systems. As to the attack on the collection process, the problem is that the procedures for pursuing appeals allow the NFL to refuse to provide most of the evidence that would help the player establish irregularities.
As the source explained, these cases are lost not in the hearing room; they were lost at the negotiating table. Unless and until the league and the union agree to testing procedures that require the NFL to prove with a high degree of certainty the accuracy of the collection and testing of a sample that, if positive, will result in a suspension, players will be at risk of being wrongly suspended.