Coach says reports hurt team
OAKLAND -- Oakland Raiders coach Bill Callahan has heard the reports of steroid use by four of his players, and he acknowledges it's hurt the team's mood.
But until there's proof one of his guys used such banned drugs, he's standing by them.
"No one's been proven guilty at this point so we'll just see how this turns out," the coach said Monday at the team's practice facility in Alameda, Calif., responding to repeated questions from the media. "They've been indicted but no one's been found guilty yet."
Callahan said he knew nothing about any Raiders testing positive for the newly discovered steroid THG or facing subsequent suspensions.
His comments came a day after CBS reported that defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield, center Barret Robbins, linebacker Bill Romanowski and defensive tackle Chris Cooper tested positive for THG, or tetrahydrogestrinone, and could each face four-game suspensions.
"I haven't had any confirmation on that from the league office. Normally when a player does get suspended, the day that they get suspended is the day that I'm informed. So at this point I haven't heard from the league yet," Callahan said.
NFL officials again Monday refused to comment on the report. However, they noted that if players test positive, additional samples would still have to be tested and any suspensions would be subject to appeals that could delay punishment for at least several weeks.
ESPN's Chris Mortenson reported Monday that the samples from the four players in question will be retested Wednesday.
Such suspensions would mark the first time THG has been linked directly to any sport outside track and field, which already has had at least five athletes test positive for the steroid.
The NFL isn't the only pro league taking a fresh look at steroid use since THG was first detected this summer. Baseball, which will begin punishing players for steroid use next season, recently added THG to its list of banned substances.
None of Oakland's players was available Monday. The Raiders got their first Monday off of the season, following a 28-18 win over the Minnesota Vikings, and reporters were barred from the locker room.
Callahan said the day off was purely a reward for the victory, and not related to the steroid reports. He acknowledged the reports of steroid use and possible suspensions had hurt the mood of the team.
"I don't think it's affected us positively," he said. "We're all hurt by the reports that are out."
Stubblefield, Cooper, running back Tyrone Wheatley and fullback Chris Hetherington appeared last week before a federal grand jury probing a nutritional supplements lab: Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.
Those four Raiders became the first non-track and field athletes to appear. Dozens of other athletes have been subpoenaed to testify, ranging from baseball's Barry Bonds to boxer Shane Mosley.
An attorney for BALCO founder Victor Conte has said his client is a target of the grand jury probe, which is believed to be looking into tax and drug issues.
Conte has been accused by a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency official of supplying athletes with THG, but has denied that.
On Monday, an attorney for Greg Anderson, a personal trainer for Bonds and other professional athletes, confirmed his client also is a target of the grand jury probe. Attorney Bill Rapoport said he does not know the nature of the accusations against Anderson.
Internal Revenue Service agents and other law enforcement officials raided Anderson's home on Sept. 5, two days after a raid on BALCO. Rapoport said items were taken from Anderson's home but he wouldn't elaborate.
Rapoport said Anderson's only connection to Conte is as a customer, purchasing vitamins to give or sell to the athletes he trained.
Bonds is scheduled to appear Dec. 4 before the grand jury. His attorney, Mike Rains, has said he has been told Bonds is not a target of the probe.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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