Vikings vs. NFL Trial Begins Today

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 8, 2010 | Go to article overview

Vikings vs. NFL Trial Begins Today


Byline: Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- More than a year after two Minnesota Vikings sued the NFL over its anti-doping procedures, the closely watched case heads to trial today with sports leagues worried the outcome will hurt their ability to enforce drug policies across the country.

Defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams played all last season while challenging their four-game suspensions for testing positive for a banned diuretic during training camp in 2008. The NFL wanted the case decided in federal court, but it instead wound up before a Minnesota judge.

The trial will attempt to settle a handful of labor issues and the big one is deciding who employs the players -- the NFL, the Vikings, or both -- when it comes to drug testing. A state judge said that if the NFL employs the players, even partially, then the league has to follow Minnesota labor law, though the issue must be settled at trial.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello calls the lawsuit a "state law end-around that can undermine all anti-doping policies in sports."

"Most of the claims in the state law case have already been dismissed. But for an anti-doping policy to be effective on (a) national basis for leagues that have teams in many states, there must be uniform standards that cannot be cherry-picked state by state based on different state laws," Aiello said in a statement Friday.

Two years ago, the players tested positive for the banned substance bumetanide, which can mask the presence of steroids; they are not accused of taking steroids. Both acknowledged taking the over-the-counter weight loss supplement StarCaps the night before a training camp weigh-in so they could meet their weight targets and earn $400,000 bonuses.

Attorneys for the Williamses contend NFL officials knew StarCaps contained bumetanide -- even though it was not listed as an ingredient on the label -- and did not specifically notify players or the U. …

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