Montana Says He Passed 49er Test for Drugs

Times Staff Writer

Whatever the reasons for the San Francisco 49ers' 5-5 record, Joe Montana said Wednesday it isn't because he's using cocaine.

"I've taken one (test) for the 49ers," Montana said at a press conference Wednesday. "And I told Bill (Coach Bill Walsh) anytime he or the players or Eddie (owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr.)--the only people I feel I owe anything to--think that is what it is, I'd be happy to take (another) one."

Montana, quarterback of the Super Bowl XIX champions, was asked point-blank if he had ever used cocaine or other drugs.

"They give us a lot of stuff for pain now and then," he said.

Montana also joked that he was so afraid of needles he had to be held down to take the blood test before his wedding early this year.

"The rumors have been getting out of hand," Montana said. "I've been able to handle these kinds of things in the past, but I'll be honest, it's been tough.

"When you throw a bad pass, something comes back to you what somebody said. No matter how much you try not to think about it, it's in the back of your mind."

Rumors about Montana's alleged drug use started surfacing after the game against Atlanta Oct. 6. Walsh responded to a question about those rumors at his weekly press conference Tuesday, in the wake of Monday night's 17-16 loss at Denver.

"We are aware of the rumors that are surfacing," Walsh said. "Generally, we look into the rumors. The person that has had the most said about him has been Joe Montana."

Walsh said that the team investigated the rumors and found them to be groundless. Sources also told United Press International that the NFL had conducted its own investigation.

The NFL Players Assn. apparently was not involved in any of the investigations or even consulted on the matter. Under the 1982 collective bargaining agreement, no player can be compelled to take a drug test unless there is "reasonable cause."

Specifically, Section 7 of Article XXXI (Players' Rights to Medical Care and Treatment) reads:

"Testing: The club physician may, upon reasonable cause, direct a player . . . for testing for chemical abuse or dependency problems. There will not be any spot checking for chemical abuse or dependency by the club or club physician."

Dick Berthelsen, legal counsel of the players' association, said by phone: "I really can't comment on it (the Montana story). I don't know enough about it. I don't know the facts of this one. It's obviously a sensitive issue.

"We would be ready to assist Montana or any other player if there is a dispute with a club. (But) it seems every call I get from a reporter these days is about drugs and, frankly, I'm tired of talking about it."

Apparently, there is no dispute. Montana indicated that he had agreed to take a test about three weeks ago, upon the request of Walsh.

Walsh said: "There are many stories circulating about when it occurred, where it occurred and who was there when it occurred. There are at least five stories about him being pulled over by police and then being saved by high-ranking politicians or by Bill Walsh.

"There are stories about him being admitted to a hospital for treatment and doing drugs in the back of a major restaurant. I can categorically say that none of these instances have ever occurred."

Montana referred to reports that "I've been stopped all over in my Ferrari, and it's not even here (in the Bay Area). It's been in L.A. since we bought the house down there."

Montana owns a home in Palos Verdes Estates.

Montana said that he fears the stigma of the accusation will linger.

"It's like the old thing when the girl screams 'rape' and they prove the guy innocent. No matter what, that doubt is still there, and that's the sad part of it."

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