The NFL is slouching towards its BALCO moment. Monday it was revealed that the now-at-room-temperature drug dealer David Jacobs implicated Tennessee Titans linebacker Ryan Fowler as either purchasing, using or supplying performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). Fowler’s lawyer shot back with the obligatory, but ultimately hollow denial.
Here’s the statement from Fowler’s lawyer Peter Ginsberg: “Ryan has never tested positive for any banned substance. There apparently are unsubstantiated accusations that have been made by an admitted felon without any corroboration, and the commissioner apparently has seen fit to use those accusations to threaten my client's career."
"It's a violation of Ryan's due process rights and seemingly a violation of the NFL's policy itself to use these kind of unsubstantiated accusations itself. We've asked the NFL to provide to us any corroboration or support for these allegations and, to date, the NFL has provided absolutely no evidence to support any threatened discipline."
According to Fowler’s mouthpiece, he never tested positive for a banned substance, which is a heck of a lot different from saying he never took banned or illegal performance enhancing drugs. Since you all should know by now that there are no drug tests used by the NFL – or any sport for that matter - that can detect human growth hormone (HGH), insulin, IGF-1, designer steroids and testosterone supplementation below a certain level, nobody can hang their “clean claim” on a hook made from the lack of failed drug tests.
And for precedent in this area see Rodney Harrison of the New England Patriots. Harrison’s name came up as a result of an investigation into the Internet-based Signature Pharmacy drug scandal. Harrison never failed a drug test and would never have gotten caught, but was forced to admit to using HGH – not steroids – as a result of getting snagged in the Signature investigation. If the NFL and federal authorities have this same kind of information on Fowler you can bet the Titan will be suspended regardless of his lawyer’s bluster about due process.
Worth noting is that during the Jacobs saga there were reports that when he was busted, the feds were already aware of who he was selling to and that Jacobs gave the authorities names of people that they already had. I’m sure we’ll see about that soon enough.
With each development in this story it is clear that PED use is rampant among elite athletes – especially in the NFL – as testing procedures are still behind the times. The NFL has avoided a major scandal so far, but their BALCO moment is coming.