Ayanbadejo gets four-game suspension for first-time offense
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo said he might sue the maker of an over-the-counter supplement after the NFL suspended him for the first four regular-season games without pay for violating the league's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances on Thursday.
The suspension begins Sept. 1 and ends after a game against Detroit on Sept. 30. He is eligible to participate in preseason games and practices.
Ayanbadejo insisted he did not take steroids, did not knowingly "infringe on the rules of the NFL performance-enhancing drug policy'' and that he had passed "60-plus drug tests and never failed one.''
"I've never had a problem at any level -- collegiately, in the NFL,'' he said.
Ayanbadejo said that for three weeks in January he used a product called Max LMG, which decreases estrogen levels and boosts testosterone. He got tested that month, learned in April that he had failed and had an appeal hearing a few days before training camp opened.
"I am going to pursue civil action against the company,'' he said.
But while threatening to sue, Ayanbadejo also pointed a finger at himself. He said he should have sent a sample to the league for evaluation before using the product. He also said the punishment was too harsh and that the NFL's arbitrators should have more authority to reduce it if a player simply made an honest mistake.
"We're not idiots,'' said Ayanbadejo, entering his ninth NFL season and first with the Bears. "We can, for the most part, figure out when a guy's being genuine, if his story holds up -- which mine does. When a guy's getting a bad rap, which I think I am. We should give the arbitrator the ability to lessen the sentence when I had clean drug tests November, December, February, March, April and I took the supplement in January.''
While the failed test and appeal hung over him, another issue arose June 5.
The Arizona Cardinals waived him after three seasons -- because of the test result, according to Ayanbadejo. The Bears, apparently, had no such reservations and signed him to a one-year deal a week later.
"He was up front right away,'' coach Lovie Smith said after practice on Thursday night. "He told us what happened, and we took it from there.''The move to his native Chicago reunited the 32-year-old Ayanbadejo with his brother Brendon, a linebacker who was his teammate with the Miami Dolphins in 2003. Brendon Ayanbadejo, who's a year younger, said his brother told him about the failed test around 2 a.m. one morning while they were vacationing in Las Vegas.
"I was really upset,'' he said. "But we're just glad that it's over with. We're glad that he has an answer and he knows where he stands now. ... We're moving on. We're trying to put it behind us. But all the time leading up until we got the answer from the NFL and fighting the appeal, it was a lot more stressful.''
Obafemi Ayanbadejo insisted he's not a cheater.
"My intent was not to do anything wrong,'' he said. "I did not take a steroid. I would never do anything to embarrass my brother, my family, my kids, my friends, my teammates. It's unfortunate that this is what got me released from Arizona.''
Ayanbadejo has 513 yards rushing, 885 receiving and eight touchdowns in his career, but he has specialized in special teams play.
"I do support the rules,'' he said. "I just have a little problem with the way they were executed. I wish somebody could come in and use reason and say, 'Hey, you know what? There's a difference between anabolic steroids that someone's injecting' and someone taking a supplement like I took.''
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press