Starting next year, National Football League players...

Starting next year, National Football League players who test positive for steroid use a second time will be subject to the same 30-day suspensions now given repeat offenders who test positive for cocaine, marijuana and other banned substances, Commissioner Pete Rozelle said.

Rozelle told club owners meeting in Chicago that the policy will apply to those players who tested positive this year for steroid use. He estimated that about 6% of the players in training camp last summer tested positive for steroid use. Those players were warned but not disciplined.

So far this season, 19 players have been suspended for 30 days for drug or alcohol abuse, and Tony Collins of Indianapolis was suspended for the season.

A players’ union source said that a class-action suit would be filed to challenge the random testing, which the league says it does only when it has reason to believe a player may be using a banned substance.


Rozelle said that one solution to the drug problem was with the teams themselves.

“So many have orthopedists or internists as their team doctors,” he said. “We’re going to hit them about getting close to a local treatment facility and a drug doctor.”

But Rozelle said the suspensions are having an effect. Only one player--Mike Bell of Kansas City, who was disciplined last week--was suspended since the early rash.