The following article was written by Spencer Wingate.
Denver Broncos linebacker DJ Williams and defensive lineman Ryan McBean were each recently suspended six games without pay for violating the NFL’s performance enhancement policy. The players maintain they are innocent and have filed a lawsuit against the league to have the suspensions overturned.
The players failed the test in August because they allegedly substituted a non-human specimen during their urine tests. The collector during the testing has since been fired by the NFL for breaching protocol and procedural irregularities. Williams’ lawyer, Peter R. Ginsberg, stated the collector tampered with testing procedure and submitted urine samples to the league that were not human. The suit, filed in Denver District Court Monday, also alleges that the NFL violated chain of custody procedure during the appeal process. When Williams and McBean appealed the ruling during the season, their lawyers were not present. The hearing officer, Harold Henderson, denied the appeal and ruled against the players. The players believe since Henderson works for the commissioner’s office, he did not act as an impartial arbitrator and refused to objectively view the facts. They claim their rights and reputations were trampled on by the league. The NFLPA has publically supported the players and questioned the process. Williams and McBean want the suspension vacated by the NFL.
Broncos Tight end Virgil Green was suspended at the same time by the NFL for four games. He is not involved in the lawsuit. He was taking medication that led to his failed drug test that has since been approved. The NFL has frequently been in the news for lawsuits filed by retired players over injury related matters. However, it is not often that active players seek legal action against the league. Reigning National League MVP Ryan Braun recently made headlines in baseball when he had his 50 game suspension for a positive drug test overturned. Major League Baseball supported the collector and confirmed he followed protocol; yet Braun still won. It seems Williams and McBean will have a more compelling case as the NFL has fired the collector while confirming protocol was not followed.