NFL, players disagree on THG penalties

Updated: November 18, 2003, 12:09 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The NFL will retest the urine samples of four Oakland Raiders who reportedly tested positive for THG.

CBS' "The NFL Today" and SportsLine.com reported Sunday that defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield, center Barret Robbins, linebacker Bill Romanowski and defensive tackle Chris Cooper were notified in letters from the NFL this past week that they tested positive for THG, or tetrahydrogestrinone.

Drew Pittman, the Robbins' agent, told ESPN's Bob Ley, on Monday's "Outside the Lines" that Robbins received notification last week of a positive steroid test. Pittman said he doesn't know when the positive urine sample was taken, but he said an appeal if likely.

Pittman said Robbins is subject to frequent urine tests after undergoing treatment for alcoholism during the offseason.

Also Monday, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported a second test for THG will take place on Wednesday on the urine samples, which were taken before the regular season and have tested positive once for THG.

Oakland senior assistant Bruce Allen told The Associated Press Sunday that he knew of no suspensions. He criticized the report but wouldn't confirm or deny the reports of the positive tests.

"The league's program on testing and information on testing are extremely confidential," Allen said before the Raiders' game against the Minnesota Vikings. "So any reports out of that, someone's either violating the law or making them up. I hope they're able to find the people who spread false rumors."

Allen said he wouldn't know if the players received such letters.

If the samples test positive again, the players officially will be considered in violation of league rules, Mortensen reported. At the second testing, each player is allowed to be represented. If the samples test positive a second time, the players could appeal league sanctions.

In this case, the appeal process may take a while because the league and the NFL Players Association disagrees whether a positive THG test this season should be subject to disciplinary action, Mortensen reported.

Meetings took place Monday on this subject between Gene Upshaw, executive director of the players association, and Harold Henderson, chairman of the NFL Management Council, Mortensen reported.

The union is arguing that because THG was not on the banned substance list at the start of the season, no player should be disciplined for testing positive this season. The league is arguing that its policy bans all enhancing steroids, no matter whether they are specifically named on its banned-substances list.

Agents for the players didn't immediately return calls from the AP on Sunday. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wouldn't comment.

Stubblefield and Cooper, along with running back Tyrone Wheatley and fullback Chris Hetherington, appeared Thursday before a grand jury probing a nutritional supplements lab -- the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.

An attorney for BALCO founder Victor Conte has confirmed his client is the target of the grand jury probe. Conte has been accused by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency of supplying athletes with THG. He has denied the report.

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