SI’s Ricky Williams features hint at deeper issues with drug testing

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The recently-unveiled Sports Illustrated saturation of Ricky Williams, including an ultra-long-form story, a documentary, and a fairly aggressive marketing push, includes plenty of nuggets that speak to some of the specific issues with which the NFL has struggled regarding marijuana.

One specific issue relating to the process for collecting urine samples.

In the documentary, Williams estimates that he was tested at least 500 times. His wife, Kristin, says that, “When the drug testers would come, some of them were like family.”

She also explains that one of the testers was so familiar with the family that he put Ricky’s samples on the counter, left for 45 minutes, and then returned. The samples resulted in a positive test; it’s unclear whether the obvious flaw in the chain of custody was used on appeal, but it’s the kind of thing that potentially could have gotten the test result overturned.

Also lurking within that familiarity between sample collector and collection subject is clear opportunity for mischief, as evidenced by the Von Miller case from 2013. Miller ultimately served a six-game suspension for trying to beat the testing protocol. It could have been much worse for Miller, but for the fact that the sample collector worked in cahoots with him.

Some believed the NFL dodged a bazooka shell with Miller’s case, given flaws in the process that allowed sample collectors to help players avoid positive tests. The NFL ultimately decided that the rabbit hole wasn’t very deep. Some would say, however, that the NFL wouldn’t have admitted to the existence of widespread problems, if that’s what the evidence had revealed.

With Williams, the familiarity with the sample collectors apparently didn’t rise to the level of shenanigans — unless Williams actually generated far more positive samples than previously known. Although the Miller situation may have resulted in a tightening up of the procedures, the experiences of Ricky Williams suggest that an opportunity for foul play definitely existed.

The real question becomes whether and to what extent other players took advantage of those defects without, unlike Miller, getting caught. If Williams’ assessment that most players smoke marijuana is correct, it’s tempting to let the mind wander as to the various ways that players may have persuaded sample collectors to look the other way as someone else’s urine was placed in the cup.

24 responses to “SI’s Ricky Williams features hint at deeper issues with drug testing

  1. The fact that Aaron Hernandez smoked dope for years on a routine basis prooves the system is flawed to the max……..what the answer is I have no idea

  2. If you knew you were about to fail a drug test that would result in a 4-game ban that would cost you 3mill, what would you do to avoid that fate?$?$?$?

  3. I have heard from former players (on the radio) that the marijuana test is fairly easy to beat. Chris Cooley even calls it an IQ test to weed out the really stupid players.
    Players are tested once in a certain range of time before the season. If they pass, they are OK until the next year and can smoke all they want until then. All they have to do is stop smoking about a month in advance of the already known date testing starts, then not smoke until they get tested. No problem. For most.

    And, I am not a pot smoker, but it seems to me that pot smokers tend to overstate how many people are smoking pot. I have one friend that smokes pot, but he says everyone he knows smokes pot – I guess this includes our mutual friends who I know don’t smoke pot. Who knows. Whenever the subject comes up in blogs, there is always several people who say everyone does it. I have always just thought they maybe only had friends who smoked so “everyone”.

  4. Love how the league really prioritizes learning from its mistakes instead of wasting its time with asinine ideas like games in China.

  5. The entire marijuana testing process is stupid and a waste of money. Lots of players smoke during the season and no one cares, but if you smoke during one of the few months you get away from football you get busted. I mean who came up with this program, an idiot?

    I have said all along just do what basketball and baseball did. Quietly raise the testing threshold to 200 ng/ml. That way you tell the right wingers you test for it, but no one gets caught.

  6. Just stop testing all together. I can now have marijuana delivered to my home or bar in under 30 minutes with a juice purchase…all legal here in DC.

  7. traevin says:

    If you knew you were about to fail a drug test that would result in a 4-game ban that would cost you 3mill, what would you do to avoid that fate?$?$?$?

    If you’re going to risk losing that kind of money just for a need to get drugged up then you’re an idiot who needs professional help.

  8. There was probably so much marijuana smoke coming from Ricky’s home that the sample came back positive even when his neighbor down the block peed in the cup for him.

  9. TB12RALLYCRY says:
    Jul 13, 2016 3:54 PM
    The fact that Aaron Hernandez smoked dope for years on a routine basis prooves the system is flawed to the max……..what the answer is I have no idea

    The fact that you said “smoked dope” “prooves” that you have no idea what youre talking about lol. Go rewatch reefer madness.

  10. The questions I would have are:

    1. Who cares if a player is smoking pot. It doesn’t make you bigger or faster. As far as I know it isn’t a safety issue like a pilot or a heavy equipment operator. And the NFL isn’t a law enforcement agency.

    2. Even if you care why is anyone tested 500 times. If Ricky played 10 years thats 50 times a year. It seems to me to be harassment more than anything.

  11. I say it’s REEFER MADNESS !!!!!! LMAO. Unreal. All this over a plant that man has been smoking since he acquired intelligence.

  12. Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycontin, no problem. Weed, that’s a suspension. Owners must be sick and tired of watching their players miss games for smoking pot. The NFL needs to quit punishing these guys, when the league is the real dope pusher.

  13. they need to publish the owners and referees drug test results , as the way a few owners act and the calls that get made every week there has to be a “lotta dope gettin smoked “

  14. This whole process should be contracted to USADA. The only problem might be the wada penalties. Doping can be up to 4 years. But marijuana is ignored.

  15. HGH is obviously widely used, and is a major performance enhancer, which they haven’t came up with a decent test for. Fans wouldn’t like the non-hgh game as players wouldn’t bounce back from injury faster, and would be smaller, slower, and weaker.
    Quit bowing to the right wing, and let it go. Drug laws in this country cost tax payers billions of dollars every day, make criminals out of normally average citizens, keep the cartels in business (they also don’t pay taxes on what they sell where if it were legal the government would have added income), and as long as the person using isn’t on the roads (illegal) or hurting someone else (also illegal) then why worry about what someone puts in their body in their own homes. Archaic laws backed by bible thumping politicians, for absolutely zero positive reason. Alcohol causes more health, and public problems than weed ever has, but keep pushing those bud light ads NFL.

  16. you get tested once a year, not 50. Unless you part of the drug program.

    And if Ricky’s tester left the room for 45 mins, why didn’t he change it out? He knew he would fail the test.

  17. smoking pot with the policy stuff, discipline, and the fact that it’s still illegal / a Schedule I drug with the Feds and thus actually illegal in all 50 states no matter how many trivial local laws get passed is just plain up… well, stupid…

    all that financial and legal risk just to get high? crazy

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