The Scouting Combine officially didn’t go well for Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster. Apart from being sent home after an altercation with a health-care worker at the hospital where prospects are poked and prodded, Foster failed the drug test.
Foster, acknowledging that someone eventually was going to violate his privacy rights by reporting on a failed drug test under the substance-abuse policy, opted to disclose the situation to one of the outlets that would have been ready and willing to violate his privacy rights by reporting on the failed test.
“This is something that’s going to get out,” Foster told Ian Rapoport of NFL Media. “I don’t make excuses. I’m a real dude. I try to be a good person. . . . I just hope the coaches understand and that’s all I can hope and pray for.”
The positive result came from a diluted sample. Foster explained that he was sick before the Scouting Combine, with vomiting, diarrhea, and cramping. He opted against an IV, obtained medication from a doctor, and began to hydrate.
“I couldn’t eat much, but I had to drink water and Gatorade,” Foster said. “Then a few coaches said something about me being too light. And I’m a coach-pleaser. I don’t care what everybody thinks, but I care what coaches think. So I drank and ate as much as I could without throwing up. Then I went in there, drinking and drinking water, trying to flush out my system from whatever was making me sick and trying to keep my weight up and took the test.”
The explanation makes sense for the most part. The claim that he was “trying to flush out my system from whatever was making me sick” feels a bit like a Freudian slip, since the rule regarding diluted sample arises from the concern that people will consume excess water in an effort to flush evidence of banned substances from his system.
Foster doesn’t know what any of this will mean to his draft stock, but he embraces the possibility that he’ll slide.
“If it’s first round, second round, whoever takes me will get a good football player and an All-Pro,” Foster said. “I hope I go on Thursday, but I can’t control that.”
He also has no qualms about being placed in the drug-testing program. Which is good, because he will be.
And that’s the primary risk that a team will be taking in accepting his version as true. If he’s instead saying what he has to say to salvage his draft status, teams need to be sure that he will consistently choose football over whatever substance may have been in his system once he knows he’ll be tested on a regular basis.
After all, he knew he’d be tested at the Scouting Combine, and he failed the test anyway. If the dilution was indeed the result of an effort to conceal banned substances and not something that happened as he tried to deal with an illness, it’s fair to worry that he’ll fail more tests.