Say It Ain’t So: Perfomance Enhancing Drugs In The NFL
When you think of performance-enhancing drugs or PEDs, you usually think of baseball and track and field events. Of course, this does not mean that there haven’t been, are not currently, or will not be users of PEDs in other sports. Of course, we tend to also think about steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) when we think about PEDs. However, the latest violation of the doping policy in the NFL has nothing to do with either type of substance.
Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams (pictured above) and New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith (quite a famous name) have been suspended for two games without pay and will play their next two games after the suspension for free due to violation of the NFL doping policy. Two other free agents have also been punished the same way for the same violation. What did they use? Diuretics.
Diuretics are used medically to eliminate excess water from the body, and are helpful in treating various conditions. However, in sports they are typically used to aid in rapid weight loss (especially when contracts or weight-class requirements necessitate a certain weight limit) or can be used to attempt to cover up the use of other drugs or illegal substances by helping them to pass through the body more quickly.
Defensive ends and tackles are typically pretty big guys, so my guess as to the use of diuretics in the cases mentioned above leans toward the latter (unless they were trying to drop weight in order to speed up). Interestingly enough, the new collective bargaining agreement changed the penalty from an automatic four-game suspension to a two-tiered system. Players who use diuretics will be suspended for two games while those who use steroids will be suspended for six.
However, in this case, there’s an interesting question that must be asked. What’s the point of scaling back a four-game suspension to a two-game suspension if the players won’t get paid for the first four games anyway? Doesn’t it add insult to injury to have to play two games without pay rather than just sitting them out?
The players maintain they did not know the substance they used, StarCaps, had the diuretic in it because it was not listed on the label. Williams stands to lose $1.4 million this season due to the suspension and fine. The message to athletes here, although a very harsh one if what Williams says is true, is very clear: do research on substances before you take them or you may lose a fortune.