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Report: Josh Freeman is 'stage 1' participant in NFL drug program

Josh Freeman is reportedly a participant in stage one of the NFL's drug program. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Josh Freeman is headed to Minnesota. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Recently benched Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman is stage one participant in the NFL's drug program. But he is not one strike away from suspension despite being subject to random testing, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Monday.

From Mortensen's report:

Freeman has obtained a temporary use exemption for a prescription drug that normally would be on the banned list, the sources said. [...]

Freeman has not had any incidents that have placed him in jeopardy of suspension, such as a positive test of a banned street-drug substance, sources said. Thus, Freeman is in relatively good standing under the program, sources added.

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In a statement to Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo, Freeman said he has an exemption to treat ADHD. He added that he voluntarily entered the program.

Mortensen reported that the stage one designation doesn't necessarily mean Freeman has tested positive for a banned substance. He could be a stage one participant for a number of reasons, including behavioral causes. A medical director determines the length of participation in the program.

The news comes a day after Freeman was benched by Bucs head coach Greg Schiano and reportedly forced by the Bucs to watch the team's loss to the Arizona Cardinals from a suite.

Schiano said the decision to bench Freeman and have him watch from a suite was “mutual.” Freeman’s agent told The Tampa Bay Times’  Rick Stroud that Schiano’s statement was a “lie, obviously,” and that Freeman was banished from the team’s sidelines.

The back-and-forth between Schiano and Freeman’s agent comes as Freeman is said to be demanding either a trade or release in what has led to intense drama in Schiano’s second season as Tampa Bay's head coach.