Players accused of using steroids

Updated: July 16, 2004, 3:23 PM ET
Associated Press

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Two Air Force Academy football players accused of using steroids will be court-martialed, the military said.

Junior running back Matthew Ward, charged with wrongful use and possession of the anabolic steroid methandrostenolone, will be court-martialed Aug. 18, the academy said Thursday.

A date has not been set for the court-martial for junior linebacker Overton Spence Jr. on charges of wrongful use, distribution and possession of methandrostenolone.

Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. John Rosa Jr. referred both cases to courts-martial earlier this week. Both cadets had waived their right to an Article 32 evidentiary hearing, which is similar to civilian grand jury sessions.

"After [Rosa] reviewed the evidence in the case and consulted with the Air Force judge advocate, he decided there was enough evidence to take the case forward," academy spokesman Lt. Col. Laurent Fox said.

If convicted, Ward faces 10 years of confinement while Spence could receive 25 years. Both face dismissal from the Air Force and forfeiture of pay and allowances.

The school has begun random testing of cadets and some employees for steroids in what experts say is an unusual step for a college of any kind. Both players have been suspended from the football team.

"This is a military justice proceeding, and we'll deal with whatever the outcome is when it's complete," coach Fisher DeBerry said. "I hurt for our guys that they are going through this, and I'm disappointed about it."

Military lawyers representing the cadets did not return phone calls.

Two other cadets also face steroids charges. An evidence hearing for Eric Swartz is scheduled for July 28. Rosa is deciding whether a court-martial is in order for Jonathan Belkowitz.

Earlier this week, senior cadet Shane Thomas was convicted of wrongful use and possession of ketamine, an anesthetic for humans and animals. He was also convicted of threatening to hurt a female cadet if she reported his drug use. He faces dismissal from the Air Force but no jail time.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE