Does NFL Drug Policy Treat Players Unfairly? Opinions Divided

By McDill, Kent | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 2, 1999 | Go to article overview

Does NFL Drug Policy Treat Players Unfairly? Opinions Divided


McDill, Kent, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Kent McDill Daily Herald Sports Writer

You, too, can purchase the dietary supplement that has prompted the NFL to suspend Bears quarterback Jim Miller for four games.

That is the point Miller's teammates - and at least one opponent - made Wednesday in reaction to the news that Miller had been suspended for violating the league's "Policy on Anabolic Steroids and Related Substances."

Miller's drug test turned up positive because of a dietary supplement Miller purchased at a GNC nutritional supplement store. The product he purchased could be bought by anyone legally, and only NFL players are punished for using it.

"We have to take responsibility for what we put in our bodies," wide receiver Curtis Conway said. "But as an athlete, unless we do our research, it is kind of hard to know. You turn that bottle around, there are those big words, and you don't know what they mean.

"As an athlete, they tell us we need protein, we need carbs (carbohydrates), and that is mainly what we read (on a product bottle). We read what is on the back of a protein shake, but at the bottom it's got some big words that are just a bunch of consonants. Where are the vowels?"

While Miller admitted his mistake without reservation, there was a perception among his teammates that NFL players are being treated unfairly, being limited in what legal dietary supplements they can take.

"It's fair, because everybody has to play under it," said linebacker Barry Minter, "but is it right to buy something over the counter and still test positive for it? You just have to be really careful now."

NFL players are given a list of substances the league will test for in random weekly tests, but the list would be Greek to anyone without a chemistry degree. An added difficulty comes because the league apparently adds to the list as the season wears on.

"They change the rules almost every day," Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre said when asked about Miller's situation. …

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