Chargers pick willing to bet it won't happen again

Updated: April 23, 2005, 9:10 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- Luis Castillo is so sure he'll never take steroids again that he's going to back it up with his bank account.

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The Northwestern defensive tackle was chosen by the San Diego Chargers with the 28th pick overall in the NFL draft Saturday, two months after testing positive for androstenedione, which is considered a steroid by the league.

Castillo said he made "a huge mistake" in taking the drug to help his performance at the scouting combine in Indianapolis in February after he was slow to heal from an elbow injury.

"I'm willing to put in my contract I'll never test positive for anything again," Castillo said in a conference call with reporters on Saturday. "If I do, I'll return my entire signing bonus. It's a situation where I've never needed that to play football and I'll never need it again. I made a one-time mistake which will never happen again."

His agent, Mike McCartney of Priority Sports in Chicago, confirmed that Castillo is willing to put his signing bonus up against future steroid testing.

"That's how much we believe it was a one-time occurrence," McCartney said by phone. "It's not who he is. He's a tremendous, tremendous kid. He does things the right way. He just made a mistake."

After Castillo tested positive at the combine, he sent a letter to the 32 NFL teams alerting them of the situation.

Chargers general manager A.J. Smith called it "a non-issue for us. We had an investigative process, and we're very comfortable with it. If we were uncomfortable with it, he would not be a San Diego Charger."

Castillo tore a ligament in his left elbow in Northwestern's season opener and decided to play the rest of the season rather than have surgery. He took steroids after the season.

"I was getting frustrated, to be honest," said Castillo, who was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. "It was a situation where it was still January, I was having a hard time getting back to a level I've always known I've been at. Not being able to work out the way I wanted to and prepare the way I wanted to, for this, the biggest opportunity of my life, I got scared and I made a huge mistake."

Castillo said his only choice "was to own up to it and talk to teams, help them understand why I made the mistake, which doesn't excuse it. But teams believed me and they took it really well. I'm just so grateful for the opportunity to play now."

Said McCartney: "We're ecstatic."

Under the terms of its steroids policy, Castillo is subject to reasonable-cause testing while in the league, meaning he could be tested up to 24 times a year.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press