SEATTLE – Richard Sherman was successful in his defense again.
On Thursday, the Seahawks Cornerback learned his appeal on a positive drug test was upheld. It means he will not face a suspension.
“They corrupted the result and that’s why it was a positive test,” Sherman said at Seahawks Headquarters in Renton. “There was a lot of mistakes, on top of me not taking anything.”
Sherman faced a four game ban after the NFL said he tested positive for prescription drug Adderall back in September. He has played in every game as he appealed the decision.
Robert Wallace, a former NFL executive who handled drug test appeals, reversed the decision on Thursday after a long investigation. He found flaws in the testing procedure, and wrote that “it is indisputable that this collection was not ordinary.”
He cited testimony from both Sherman, and the technician who took Sherman’s sample at the Seahawks Headquarters back in September. Wallace said both the technician, identified as Mark Cook, agreed that a cup was broken in the testing process and Sherman’s sample was put into another cup. Sherman had also noted that he noticed several used cups in the vicinity of the test.
Wallace says Cook didn’t acknowledge the broken cup, until asked about it by a supervisor in October, and contradicted himself in testimony about the incident.
“It’s crucial the league learns from that and that it not make that mistake in the future,” said Michael McCann, Director of the Sports Law Institute at the Vermont Law School.
He notes that the case may open the door for other players who also test positive.
“(They) could also file an appeal and it would seem based on this precedent it would have success,” he said.
McCann also believes the issue could be a positive for the NFL and the Players Association because “it shows the appeal process is legitimate”.
The NFL did not return a call seeking comment.
Larry Rosok, who runs ArcPoint Labs in West Seattle, says it is standard operating procedure to separate a sample into two different tubes for testing, but “you need to make sure they are closed securely and they very seldom leak.”
He says Sherman’s case can remind people who are going through a similar process to closely watch those handling the sample.
“Keep (it) in your view. Watch the collector when they’re doing it”, said Rosok, who stressed that he was unsure how different his process is from the NFL mandating testing procedure.