JaMarcus Russell failed drug test in '07

Updated: August 13, 2010, 5:57 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Free-agent quarterback JaMarcus Russell told ESPN's Colleen Dominguez that he tested positive for codeine after the Raiders selected him with the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft.

"I missed all of training camp, so I didn't get tested when all the other guys got tested," Russell told Dominguez during an "Outside The Lines" interview, the entirety of which can be seen at 9 a.m. ET Aug. 22. "I had a prescription from a doctor, but it wasn't the team doctor."

Russell also said he has used codeine without a prescription, but scoffed at reports that he had a drug problem.

Russell

Russell said the allegations of drug use stem from that positive test, and said he has not used codeine in three years.

When asked about Russell's positive test, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, "No comment."

The former LSU star -- who had missed the 2007 training camp because of a lengthy contract holdout that stretched to the start of the regular season -- said the Raiders came to him and asked him about his possible drug use early in his career.

"Around the time when I first got there or a year after I got there," Russell said, when asked when the Raiders confronted him. "[They] said they were gettin' word in the streets about me using drugs. Then, one of the doctors came to me."

The Raiders released Russell in May, and he was arrested in July for alleged possession of codeine.

Two days after his arrest, the Raiders released a statement saying they "did all they could to intervene and assist with a myriad of issues with JaMarcus Russell."

When Dominguez read the statement to Russell during the interview, he seemed startled and told Dominguez the Raiders' words caught him off-guard. Russell said he had never seen or heard the statement before.

Russell, who was just 7-18 in his three-year career with Oakland, also criticized Raiders coach Tom Cable for blaming him for the team's failure to make the playoffs.

"It kind of took a lot out of me for the respect of Tom Cable," Russell said. "I could have been the worst in the universe. To go on national television and say it was all my fault. ... He's the head coach. I don't think that was very head coach-like, or man-like."

On Wednesday, District Judge Charles McKnight questioned the credibility of the testimony given by Marcus Stevenson, a longtime Russell friend who said he made the codeine-laced drink found in a July 5 raid at Russell's home. Stevenson testified Wednesday that the drink belonged to him, but the judge sent the case to a grand jury.

Mobile County (Ala.) Sheriff's Deputy Johnny Thornton testified the orange-colored drink in Russell's bedroom appeared freshly poured. Investigators said Russell, who was in the bedroom, told them it was his Kool-Aid. Thornton said it later tested positive for codeine.

Thornton also said there were nine people in the house and a codeine bottle without a prescription was found in a cabinet.

Russell's attorney, Donald Briskman, said in an interview with The Associated Press after the hearing that the codeine bottle was in a cabinet at a distance from Russell's bedroom. He said Stevenson told an officer at the home that it belonged to him, not Russell, but authorities took no action against Stevenson.

"They didn't arrest him at the scene. They targeted JaMarcus. ... He should have been discharged today," Briskman said.

Stevenson testified at the hearing that he mixed the drink and didn't make it for Russell. After the hearing, Stevenson was handcuffed and charged with possession of a controlled substance. He was released on bond.

Stevenson's attorney, Greg Evans, raised objections to the questioning of his client, citing his rights against self-incrimination. He later said Stevenson "was sworn to tell the truth and that is what he did."

It could be months before the grand jury decides whether the evidence warrants an indictment.

Information from ESPN.com's John Clayton and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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