Chargers LB tested clean 19 of 20 times

Updated: April 30, 2007, 3:13 PM ET
By Chris Mortensen | Special to ESPN.com

In an effort to distance Shawne Merriman's name from being attached to a new policy, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has confirmed to ESPN's Chris Mortensen that the Chargers star linebacker has tested clean on 19 of 20 random tests for performance-enhancing drugs since he entered the league two years ago.

Merriman was suspended for four games in 2006 for testing positive for steroids, which he has steadfastly claimed came from a tainted supplement. As a consequence, the NFL and the NFL Players Association have agreed that players who are suspended under the policy will not be eligible for the Pro Bowl, starting with the upcoming season. A formal announcement is expected prior to the season.

Leery that the new policy will be know as the "Merriman rule," Goodell has asked the union to include all players suspended under any existing policy, such as player conduct, to be omitted from the Pro Bowl. NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw refused the proposal.

However, at the behest of Merriman, the union gave the league permission to disclose Merriman's testing results, overiding the confidentiality rules in place.

"This is something Shawne wanted to get out," Goodell said.

Chris Mortensen covers the NFL for ESPN.