Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who previously has been suspended for pretty much everything but violating the PED policy, now faces a PED violation. And his camp has leaked a self-serving excuse to ESPN that, as articulated, holds less water than a hula hoop.
Adam Schefter of ESPN passes along the notion that Burfict will argue that the positive test came from medication prescribed for him after a December 4 concussion and/or medication prescribed for him after a December 24 shoulder injury.
Burfict also will claim, according to Schefter, that the positive test occurred on December 27, after he had been ruled out for the season. Thus, he’ll argue that he couldn’t have gained any advantage because he wasn’t playing in any more games.
However, Schefter fails to mention that, as of December 27, Burfict hadn’t been ruled out for the season. Two days later, Burfict appeared on they injury report as doubtful, which indicates a 25-percent chance of playing. On December 30, Burfict was downgraded to out.
Perhaps more importantly, a player’s playing status has no relevance to the requirement that, 365 days per year, players cannot have banned substances in their system. Likewise, the league has specific procedures for obtaining permission to take prescription medications that are otherwise banned by the PED policy. There’s no indication that Burfict successfully complied with any and all requirements to obtain permission to take something that team doctors should have known are prohibited.
It’s possible Burfict got the medication from his own doctor, who may have been oblivious to the fact that the NFL will automatically suspend a player for four games if the substances are in his system.
Thus, on its surface, the planned defense looks like a losing proposition. Maybe there are more facts that would bolster the case. If there were, they presumably would have been provided to Schefter and included in his story.