NFL players approve new drug policy

Published 7:47 pm Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Associated Press


Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker won’t be suiting up on Sunday.

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Neither will Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick.

Despite the union’s approval, the NFL didn’t sign off on a new drug policy before Saturday’s roster deadline, meaning players potentially eligible for reinstatement remained on the reserve/suspended list.

That includes Welker and Scandrick, who are both serving four-game punishments.

The NFL Players Association approved a new policy Friday that would introduce HGH testing and significantly increase the threshold for positive marijuana tests. Other changes could result in suspended players seeing their punishments reduced or rescinded.

Despite the union’s OK, the NFL didn’t approve the new policy by the 4 p.m. ET deadline for the 53-man rosters to be set for Sunday’s games.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told The Associated Press on Friday night that significant issues remained unresolved.

On Saturday morning, the NFLPA issued a statement saying, “We hope to have final agreements, including effective date for players with adjusted discipline, very soon.”

Welker was suspended for amphetamine use in the offseason, but punishment for that is being switched from the performance enhancers policy to the substance abuse program — except for in-season violations.

Quarterback Peyton Manning expressed a desire to have Welker back in action by this weekend. But the Broncos slot receiver likely would have been inactive against Kansas City even if he’d been reinstated.

Although he has cleared concussion protocol, he’s practiced just once since Aug. 23, when he sustained his third head injury in a 10-month span.

If the NFL agrees to the new drug policy soon, Welker could be eligible to play against Seattle next week.

Before beginning his suspension, Welker, a widely respected 11-year NFL veteran, vehemently disagreed with his punishment and said he’d fight to fix the league’s drug policy.

“I don’t have an explanation of exactly what happened,” teammate Jacob Tamme said Friday. “All I know is he’s one of the best teammates and guys in this locker room, one of the best guys I’ve ever played with. My understanding is if this policy gets passed, it will benefit guys like him. So, obviously, there was something wrong with the system.”

Scandrick, whose Cowboys play Tennessee on Sunday, blamed his positive drug test on a recreational drug he took in Mexico that he didn’t know contained an amphetamine.

Other suspended players could have their bans lifted if the NFL signs off on the drug policy.

Miami Dolphins defenders Reshad Jones and Dion Jordan are serving four-game bans for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancers. Jordan tested positive for a stimulant and Jones said he took a supplement that caused the violation.

If the substances for which they tested positive are remanded into the substance abuse program, they, too, could be eligible to return before serving their full four-game suspensions.


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