NFL Says It Will Suspend About 20 for Steroid Use

Associated Press

About 20 active National Football League players tested positive for steroids in training camp and will be suspended for a month, the league announced Monday.

The names of the players, who will miss the final exhibition game and the first three regular-season games, were sent to their teams and will be announced today.

League officials planned to release the names Monday, but the announcement was delayed when the NFL Players Assn. asked a federal judge to issue a temporary restraining order to stop the league from implementing the suspension plan.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan, however, refused to grant the request, saying all players had been given ample warning that they would be disciplined for using the drugs. He also said the union failed to show how its members would face irreparable harm under the league's plan, announced last March 21 by Commissioner Pete Rozelle.

Joe Browne, league spokesman, said an unspecified number of other players among the 2,300 tested at training camps had tested positive but had already been cut by their teams.

Teams were required to get their rosters to 60 players by today and the regular-season limit of 47 by next Monday.

In seeking the temporary retraining order, the players' union called the accuracy of the testing procedures "highly questionable" and said that identifying and suspending a player for steroid use would stigmatize him.

Hogan acknowledged that a suspension "could be fatal to a marginal player" and called his decision "a close call."

But he said the union's lawyers had failed to prove that players who might be suspended would suffer irreparable harm and added that most legal questions relating to the NFL's steroid-testing program must be left to an arbitrator to decide.

The union said it based its argument on what it called "sloppy and unreliable" testing methods used by the NFL and its adviser, Dr. Forest Tennant, executive director of Community Health Projects in West Covina.

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