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Josh Freeman explains participation in NFL drug program

The 2013 NFL season has been far more complicated for Josh Freeman than he ever imagined. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images) The 2013 NFL season has been a tremendous struggle for Josh Freeman. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

It has not been a good season for Josh Freeman. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting quarterback has been demoted after a three-game stretch and the Bucs even asked him to watch their most recent game from a suite at Raymond James Stadium. This happened after Freeman was declared inactive prior to the Buccaneers' 13-10 loss to Arizona, in which rookie quarterback Mike Glennon threw two game-changing interceptions. Freeman, the team's first-round pick in 2009, has asked to be traded or released.

Things got even stranger on Monday, when a report from ESPN's Chris Mortensen revealed that Freeman was a Stage 1 participant in the NFL's drug program. Mortensen's report indicated that Freeman has a temporary use exemption for a prescription drug that would otherwise be outside the boundaries of the NFL's substance-abuse policies. There are three stages to the program, and a player's status is dependent on several factors. A Stage 1 status does not automatically indicate that Freeman ever tested positive for any banned substance without an exemption.

As Mortensen reported, teams perhaps interested in Freeman as a trade asset are allowed to know his standing in the league's drug program only if he is one strike away from a suspension. Freeman has never tested positive for a banned substance, based on the exemption. Thus, the "league and player sources" who gave the information to Mortensen were violating Freeman's confidentiality rights.

In response to this, Freeman issued a Monday statement through his agents explaining the report, and his participation in the program. Pro Football Talk was the first to post it.

Let me be very clear. I have NEVER tested positive for any illegal drugs or related substances. Further, I have agreed to take, and have PASSED 46 NFL-regulated drug tests over the last year and a half.

Since the confidentiality of my medical status has been publicly violated, I am choosing to address this matter so that grossly erroneous assumptions about me do not persist.  Like millions of Americans, I have ADHD and I have been prescribed and permitted to take medication to treat this condition for the entirety of my NFL career.  Well over a year ago, I took a different medication for the same condition (Ritalin rather than Adderall) , and to assure everyone that the error was a one-time mistake, I agreed to be voluntarily tested in the “NFL Program”.  Since that time, I have taken and passed all 46 drug tests I’ve been given, which test for every drug and banned substance imaginable. I agreed to allow such testing to be done at my workplace (team facility) because I spend all of my time there and I have nothing whatsoever to hide or be embarrassed about.

Unfortunately, it appears that some people who may have noticed the testing at my workplace have made hurtful and incorrect assumptions and chosen to disseminate inaccurate and very disturbing information. It is a shame that when times have gotten tough, people have chosen to attack the character of others, rather than supporting each other. I remain dedicated and focused to being the best quarterback I can be and to help a team win a championship.

There is no indication who released this information.

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