THE NFL FAILS ITS DRUG TEST

THE LEAGUE'S DRUG PROGRAM IS MISLEADING TO THE PUBLIC AND CAN BE UNFAIR TO THE PLAYERS
July 09, 1989

No other pro sports league has a drug policy as tough as the NFL's. Alone among the leagues, the NFL tests all players for drugs. Since 1982 players have been subject to urinalyses in training camp as well as unannounced follow-up tests when there is "reasonable cause" to believe a player is using drugs. Only the opposition of the NFL Players Association has blocked the NFL from adopting random testing for every player, something ordinarily imposed only on workers in industries where public safety is paramount, such as aviation and nuclear power.

The NFL also goes beyond the other leagues in meting out punishment to drug offenders. The NBA, the NHL and major league baseball all have suspended athletes who ran afoul of drug laws or whose drug involvement caused them to miss games or practice, but last year the NFL broke new ground when, based largely on test results, it suspended 24 players for alleged involvement with cocaine or marijuana or alcohol. That exceeded the total number of athletes suspended in 1988 by the NBA, the NHL and major league baseball and at the Calgary and Seoul Olympics.

The NFL's hard-line approach may well deter some players from using drugs. Yet SI has turned up widespread irregularities, inconsistencies and misrepresentations in nearly every facet of the NFL's drug program. League officials have misstated the dimensions of drug use among players, exaggerating or underestimating it, depending on their public relations needs of the moment. They have seldom bothered to distinguish between players who are addicted and those who have used drugs recreationally. And they have misappropriated drug testing, using a medical tool for punitive purposes.

The NFL's drug program relies heavily on testing. In fact, it consists of little more than testing. Drug testing in the workplace is a controversial issue, but even impassioned proponents of increased testing agree that drug tests of any kind must be conducted with civil liberties safeguards. Such safeguards are often circumvented in the NFL program. League commissioner Pete Rozelle, who in March announced his intention to step down after 29 years on the job—his retirement becomes effective upon selection of a successor, possibly this week—must take much of the blame for this, because he has ruled over the NFL's drug program like Jehovah, sitting as judge, jury and prosecutor of drug cases. However, nothing Rozelle has done opens him to second-guessing more than his appointment of Dr. Forest Tennant Jr. as the league's drug adviser. Tennant, 48, who operates a string of California methadone clinics (page 46) and has considerable experience in drug testing and counseling, lends a veneer of medical respectability to the NFL drug program, but in carrying out his NFL duties, his administrative competence and adherence to accepted drug-testing standards have been found seriously wanting.

This special report is based on transcripts of hearings and court proceedings in NFL drug cases and on interviews with players, agents, team doctors, NFLPA officials and drug experts. It also draws on information provided by a number of former employees of Tennant's. Rozelle declined to be interviewed, explaining that the commissioner's office was in "transition," and he deferred questions to Jay Moyer, the NFL's executive vice-president and counsel to the commissioner. Tennant also would not reply to questions, noting that he is prohibited from publicly discussing any aspect of the NFL's drug program by a 1987 arbitrator's ruling sought by the NFLPA—although he hasn't always abided by this ruling. He has on occasion told others of drug abuse by specific players. Moreover, Tennant refused to respond to questions about drug policy generally or about his clinics, subjects not covered by the ruling. Nevertheless, many of Tennant's views are available in transcripts of NFL drug hearings. Among SI's findings:

•The NFL's drug-testing program has turned up scant evidence of illicit substance use by players. According to data shown to SI, 6.5% of all NFL players tested positive for cocaine, marijuana, alcohol and other drugs (except anabolic steroids) in preseason 1986, and 9.6% tested positive for these drugs in preseason '87. However, most positives were for over-the-counter medication or alcohol. Only 0.7% of NFL players tested positive for cocaine in 1986 and 0.8% in 1987. The figures for marijuana were 1.8% and 1.6%, respectively. Instead of trumpeting these figures, the NFL has taken care not to divulge them. One possible reason is that officials thought nobody would take the figures seriously. After all, players knew about the tests in advance and had time to cleanse their systems. But there's another probable explanation: To justify its brass-knuckles drug policy, the NFL needs to give the impression that drug use by players is widespread.

•The low figures should have been lower still, because the NFL apparently considers even trace amounts of marijuana and cocaine as positives, although such small readings in confirmatory tests can be caused by passive inhalation—e.g., breathing in somebody else's marijuana smoke at a party—or by the inability of testing equipment to distinguish among substances at very low levels. Until last year, the NFL had a provision in its drug policy that said marijuana metabolite levels below 50 nanograms—a nanogram is one billionth of a gram—"could be considered passive inhalation." But Moyer told SI in an interview last week that the NFL never felt bound by a 50-ng cutoff. In fact, the league often ignored the figure. According to data shown to SI, 41 players were deemed to have tested positive for marijuana in preseason 1987; 34 of them had readings of less than 50 ng. Before the start of preseason testing in '88, the league dropped the 50-ng reference from its drug-policy literature. The league offered no explanation at the time, but Moyer told SI, "You learn as you go along and as the science improves. And we felt that there was no need to specify a figure."

The NFL has never acknowledged recognizing a threshold for cocaine, but other organizations that test employees do so. Last year the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) adopted thresholds for both cocaine and marijuana for government employees, and they have become widely accepted in private industry. Under NIDA standards, samples are positive only if they contain at least 150 ng of cocaine metabolite or 15 ng of a marijuana metabolite in confirmatory tests. SI has learned that of 17 players who were considered by the NFL to have tested positive for cocaine in 1987, six were below the NIDA level; 10 of the 41 marijuana positives would have been below the current NIDA level.

•The NFL conducts drug tests on college players at its annual scouting combine, and here, too, the league has dipped below the 50-ng level in determining positives for marijuana. Combine records shown to SI reveal that 48 players tested positive in 1986 with marijuana levels of less than 50 ng. Eighteen of them were drafted, and several of them, according to agents, may have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because word of their supposed positives was passed on to league personnel directors. The players were consequently picked lower in the NFL draft than they otherwise would have been. One player so affected had a marijuana level of 11 ng on a screening test and of zero on a confirmation test. Amazingly, the league treated this sample as a positive.

•Under NFL procedures, players adjudged to have been positive in league-wide tests are subject to reasonable-cause testing—that is, at any time, in season or out, the league can demand a urine specimen for purposes of drug testing. That many of these players had "positives" below accepted thresholds doesn't seem to bother the NFL, which defines reasonable cause in the broadest possible terms. According to NFL policy, reasonable-cause testing can be triggered by, among other things, "a pattern of aberrant behavior," which is whatever the league says it is. NFLPA assistant executive director Doug Allen says that several years ago, an NFL coach tried to get one of his players tested for reasonable cause because the player had not been hanging around with teammates after practice. The player had to admit that he was taking piano lessons and didn't want his teammates to know. Only then was he spared the testing. Once reasonable-cause testing begins, it can go on and on. Moyer said in a drug-case hearing last year, "There is no fixed duration of reasonable-cause testing."

•Sound medical practice demands that drug programs not rely for diagnosis on testing alone, and the NFL specifies in its drug literature that players who test positive are to receive evaluation for possible medical treatment. Yet the league routinely breaches its own policy. Some players who test positive have received help. But others have never been questioned about their drug history, much less been seen by a doctor. The league too often confines its "evaluation" to ordering reasonable-cause testing. Says Armand Nicholi Jr., a New England Patriots team doctor and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, "The tendency is to let the tests speak for themselves, not to depend too much on a player's history."

In other cases, players who test positive fall through the cracks and do not undergo reasonable-cause testing. In this category are two recently retired players, who, according to records seen by SI, came up positive for cocaine in preseason 1987 tests. Both players say they didn't learn they had tested positive until SI informed them 18 months later. But both acknowledged they had used drugs and may have had dependencies that needed treatment.

•Conversely, it's likely that some players who aren't addicts are being treated as if they were. NFL policy dictates that after two positive tests, two drug incidents or one of each, a player must undergo a 30-day rehabilitation program. Yet two positive drug tests—even two true positives—don't necessarily make someone an addict. Former Chicago Bears running back Calvin Thomas had two below-50-ng results for marijuana on preseason tests in 1987 and a definite positive for cocaine and marijuana last August, whereupon Rozelle suspended him for 30 days. In a hearing before Rozelle, Tennant said that Thomas "has an illness I want to see treated," and he also said, "He is one of the unfortunate people who probably have a dependent personality, and he's got a long way to go to cure." In fact, Tennant could not have known that, because neither he nor any other doctor had treated Thomas.

•Many players and their agents believe the league plays favorites in drug cases. The claim is often made that stars hear in advance about tests or are otherwise protected. One star who tested positive in preseason 1987 testing—with a 300-ng reading for cocaine, double NIDA's current threshold—is a potential Hall of Famer who has since retired. He is one of the former players who told SI they might have benefited from treatment but were never evaluated or even told they had tested positive.

•Confidentiality is critical to any properly run drug program, but several of Tennant's former employees say that Tennant has repeatedly mentioned in casual conversation the names of NFL players who supposedly tested positive. Andy Knott, who was Thomas's agent, says that during a phone conversation Tennant offhandedly disclosed to him the names of two of Thomas's teammates who had tested positive. Under the arbitrator's decision of Jan. 18, 1987, Tennant is considered to have a doctor-patient relationship with NFL players, which presumably would make such name-dropping a breach of ethics. (SI has withheld the names of alleged drug users unless they have been publicly identified as such by the NFL or by law enforcement agencies.)

•Accepted protocol requires that urine samples be handled with utmost security. On NFL tests, bottled samples are stored wherever it is convenient to do so. Many are shipped by air courier services, with no protection against tampering en route or after arrival at the lab. According to a former employee at Tennant's lab in West Covina, Calif. bottles routinely were kept in a refrigerator that was accessible to everyone who worked in that lab. Some specimens were labeled with players' names instead of code numbers. NFLPA general counsel Dick Berthelsen tells of samples taken from Seattle Seahawk players by a technician who carried them in a suitcase onto a commercial airliner, after which urine was seen dripping from the bag. Moyer acknowledged that "there was some leakage out of one specimen" involving a Seahawk player in 1988 but said there was no contamination of that or other specimens in the shipment. Moyer added, "Human beings aren't perfect. We have great confidence in the program and in the methodology, but you can never eliminate all mistakes."

Given the often haphazard nature of the NFL drug program, it is not surprising that the league has not been eager to hold its procedures up to judicial scrutiny. In the 1987 preseason, Bears defensive end Richard Dent tested positive for marijuana with a level of less than 50 ng. Dent took two follow-up tests; both were negative. When the league sought to test him again, Dent refused. The NFL treated that as the equivalent of a positive test and suspended him. Dent filed suit. The league could have tried to defend its drug policies in court but instead reinstated Dent.

Another player who challenged Rozelle in court was Seahawk defensive back Terry Taylor. Taylor failed his 1987 preseason drug test, went into rehab and underwent as many as 25 follow-up tests, all but the last of which turned up negative, over the ensuing 10 months. Last Aug. 30, Rozelle suspended Taylor for 30 days, claiming he had tested positive six days earlier. On Sept. 16, after missing the first two games of the '88 season because of the suspension, Taylor sought a temporary restraining order in U.S. district court in Seattle.

In challenging the NFL, Taylor denied taking drugs at any time since his 1987 positive. Assailing the alleged '88 positive, his lawyers said they had received a printout from the league indicating that the test had revealed only a "trace" amount of cocaine. Beyond that, Taylor's lawyers suggested Taylor's sample could have been mishandled. They said Taylor had produced his sample and then had had to hurry off to a team meeting without seeing the bottle sealed or his name affixed to it. They also contended that Rozelle had breached confidentiality in branding Taylor a drug abuser before Taylor had a chance to contest the suspension at a hearing. Judge Carolyn Dimmick granted the restraining order, noting, "There are serious questions raised about the manner of the testing, whether or not it's flawed." Taylor returned to the Seahawks, and it was only then that he finally received a hearing before Rozelle. A decision in the case has never been announced, and in his interview with SI, Moyer would not divulge what the decision was. Suffice it to say that the NFL did not invite further court action by suspending Taylor anew after the restraining order expired.

If the NFL has trouble defending its policies on substance abuse, it may be because those policies are based less on legal or scientific principles than on public-relations considerations—and contradictory ones, at that. Concerned lest the NFL be portrayed as drug infested, Rozelle has played down drug use among the players. At the same time, he has sought to justify no-nonsense measures by insisting that the league has a serious drug problem. In January 1986, he told The New York Times, "From the players I talk to, and this is merely a guess, [drug use] is less pervasive now than it was three to five years ago." Yet at the July '86 arbitrator's hearing on the league's dispute with the NFLPA over random testing, Rozelle testified, "I think there is considerable evidence that [players' drug use] is a much more serious problem [than it used to be], but I don't want to say that to the press."

When he made that admission, Rozelle was under some pressure to get tougher on drugs. In its 1982 collective-bargaining agreement with the NFLPA, the league had negotiated for the right to allow the 28 teams to conduct preseason testing and reasonable-cause follow-up tests in the case of positives, but discipline proved to be hit-or-miss because some teams swept their drug problems under the carpet. In January '86, shortly after New England lost to Chicago in Super Bowl XX, concern about drug use by NFL players increased with publication of a series of Boston Globe articles in which Patriots management acknowledged that as many as a dozen team members may have been involved with drugs. Later in '86, Maryland basketball star Len Bias and Cleveland Browns safety Don Rogers died of cocaine overdoses. Rozelle's attempt to adopt random testing was shot down by the arbitrator, but Rozelle did take two other actions: He shifted primary responsibility for combating drug use from the clubs to his own office, and he appointed Tennant to the new position of drug adviser.

Tennant appeared to be admirably suited for the NFL job. He has an M.D. from the University of Kansas (1966) and a Ph.D. in public health from UCLA ('74), and he has taught in the School of Public Health at UCLA. At the time of his hiring by the NFL, Tennant was serving as a consultant for the drug programs of the California Highway Patrol, the state's Department of Justice and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was later dropped by the Dodgers, but in '87 he was named drug consultant for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). NFL literature describes him as "an expert in the field of drug treatment and research."

Yet Tennant's career has been dogged by controversy, much of it centering on alleged abuses involving his methadone clinics. He has also been criticized by peers for claiming to be able to spot drug users on sight, something most drug experts consider possible only in extreme cases. In a training film for his employees, Tennant said that tip-offs that someone may be using drugs include the wearing of blue jeans and T-shirts and the sporting of tattoos. He has conducted seminars at which he taught drug counselors a rapid-movement eye test that he claimed could be used to identify persons under the influence of drugs. The technique is considered by most experts to be, at best, a preliminary test of drug use. Last fall the Juneau (Alaska) Empire reported that in a speech to the Juneau-Gastineau Rotary Club, Tennant claimed partial credit for the Dodgers' success as a team in 1988 because he had cleaned up their drug problem. According to a baseball executive, league officials were unhappy with Tennant's discussing such matters in public—Tennant subsequently told The Los Angeles Times that his remarks in Juneau were quoted out of context—and this winter the Dodgers did not renew Tennant's contract. Team general manager Fred Claire said that decision had nothing to do with the Juneau speech. He said the Dodgers dropped Tennant because they wanted to widen the scope of their drug-treatment program to include care in other health areas.

At an arbitrator's hearing a few months after assuming his NFL job, Tennant appeared to unflinchingly accept his role as overseer of the league's supposedly more centralized approach to combating drugs. He asserted that team physicians "need a consultant like myself to guide them when they do their evaluations." However, he sang a different tune at last fall's Calvin Thomas hearing, at which he seemed to blame the clubs for what he acknowledged to be the "erratic" handling of the cases of some NFL players. Indeed, one of Tennant's most serious failings is that the league's drug program remains almost as fragmented today as it was when he took over.

Tennant, like Rozelle, has been inconsistent in discussing the extent of drug use by NFL players. The day after he took the job, Tennant said in an interview on ABC-TV's Good Morning America, "I could give you an argument that [the drug problem] in sports might not even be as big as it is outside [sports]." At the arbitrator's hearing just over three weeks later, Tennant reversed himself. "I have reason to believe that [the drug problem in the NFL] is worse than [in] the rest of society." He said he based that assessment partly on the results of tests of prospective draftees—none of whom had yet appeared in an NFL game and few of whom ever would.

Something that both Tennant and Rozelle have been mum about is how few positives for cocaine and marijuana their zealous drug testing has turned up. Moyer maintains that releasing the percentages of players who tested positive would be a breach of confidentiality—a curious argument, considering that the league freely names names when suspending players. The argument is further weakened by the fact that Rozelle has publicly discussed the overall results of steroids testing for the past two years—6% to 7% of all players in both 1987 and '88 were positive. (As with the test results for cocaine and marijuana, those figures may be low; some current and former players estimate that 40% or more of NFL athletes take steroids.) When pressed on why steroid results are handled differently from those for cocaine and marijuana, Moyer said that the league confirmed steroid figures in '88 only after they had been reported at an owners' meeting and then leaked. That doesn't explain why Rozelle discussed the steroid figures again in '89—or why the league hasn't confided cocaine and marijuana figures to the owners. "How would [announcing the figures] help? It just wouldn't do any good," said Moyer. But the unavoidable conclusion is that NFL officials fear publicizing the figures because then they might have trouble justifying their drug-testing program.

The NFL is on particularly shaky ground in its apparent disdain for thresholds in determining what constitutes a positive test. Many private organizations that test employees make their thresholds known, but Moyer refused to say what the NFL's thresholds are or, indeed, if the league actually recognizes any. Moyer said only that because of advances in testing technology, a steady lowering of thresholds has been possible. As for the NIDA thresholds, Moyer said, "You can make a good argument that those levels are really obsolete." Tennant expressed his low opinion of the NIDA levels at the Thomas hearing when he testified, "One of the reasons [NIDA officials] have set those standards high is because those standards are being used for very punitive measures, in that they fire those people when they diagnose them." It is difficult to fathom why Tennant would consider the firing of federal workers more punitive than the banishment of NFL players, sometimes for life.

Most drug experts believe that fairness requires the recognition of thresholds. Says John Ambre, a professor of internal medicine at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, "There are two reasons why thresholds are set. One, there's a level at which technology is no longer able to distinguish between a positive and a negative. [Two,] marijuana levels can reach detectable levels from passive smoke."

For now NIDA levels apply by law only to tests of government employees. But last January a bill was introduced in Congress to regulate drug-testing facilities that would apply NIDA levels to all drug tests. Representative John Dingell of Michigan, a sponsor of the bill, said in a speech to the House that this was "the first step in bringing order, accuracy and integrity to urine drug testing." If, as seems likely, Dingell's bill becomes law, anyone applying thresholds lower than those set by NIDA could face a $10,000 fine and three years in prison. Major league baseball has expressed support for the bill, but the NFL has lobbied for an exception.

In the meantime, the league tramples on players' civil liberties. NFL officials pay lip service to confidentiality in drug cases, yet that did not prevent Rozelle's office from announcing last fall's suspensions before granting hearings to players who requested them. In defending this practice, Moyer told SI that in suspending players, "it's necessary to make your best judgment, act first, then if a player wants an appeal, give [it to] him as fast as possible. You can't wait." Moyer did not say why the NFL couldn't wait.

The league at times has seemed reluctant to grant hearings at all, much less do so quickly. When Taylor took the NFL to court, his attorney, Robert M. Sulkin, described Taylor's frustration in dealing with NFL headquarters: "When Mr. Taylor received the notice of his suspension, his agent. Jack Mills, called the league's lawyer and was told that there is no right to an appeal.... A few days [later], a letter is written by Mr. Mills on behalf of Terry Taylor requesting all relevant documentation so he could attack that drug test, because it was erroneous. We still didn't get the results. A week later, we are told by the league, wait a minute, you can appeal to Commissioner Rozelle.... The NFL's had it every which way over the last two weeks."

During the hearing on Taylor's request for a temporary restraining order, Judge Dimmick questioned the NFL's attorney, William R. Squires III, about Rozelle's power in drug cases: "So you're telling me that Pete Rozelle has the ultimate and the total authority to suspend, and that he can lift the suspension for any reason he sees fit?" Squires replied, "Well, you put that in a sort of draconian fashion, and I think my short answer to you is, yes, that's true."

Rozelle certainly has not used his considerable power to assure that possible drug abusers receive the evaluation and treatment that the league promises. During the Thomas hearing, Tennant spoke of what he said was the NFL's commitment to "trying to identify players who may have a problem, to get them help, not to arrest them or not to get them involved in criminal justice. We are trying to diagnose who might be dependent and need help."

However, nobody tried very hard in Thomas's case. During the same hearing, Thomas's lawyer, Philip Parenti, elicited an acknowledgment from Bears trainer Fred Caito that the urine samples of Thomas and other players had been kept in an unlocked, unattended refrigerator at the team's practice facility in Lake Forest, Ill.

Parenti established that the NFL drug program was numbingly unresponsive. Tennant testified that after Thomas's two supposedly positive 1987 tests, he wrote the Bears team physician, Dr. Clarence Fossier, and asked that Thomas be evaluated for possible drug dependency. Thomas was never evaluated. Tennant said that communications between him and the Bears had been hindered because of that year's 24-day players' strike, which started on September 22. But that was nearly seven weeks after Thomas's first league-identified positive, surely enough time to perform an examination. At other moments Tennant implied that the Bears had fouled up:

PARENTI: Do you think that was right if Fossier did not even talk to Calvin Thomas one time after he got this August and September '87 test result?...Do you think that's medically sound?

TENNANT: I would like to say something good about people wherever I can.

The inquiry into Thomas's case ended with Rozelle's refusing to lift his suspension. Thomas denies that he has ever had a substance-abuse problem, but his former agent, Knott, fears otherwise. "I want him to get help," says Knott.

Because Thomas did have one true positive for cocaine and marijuana—on Aug. 30, 1988—some people may have difficulty feeling sympathy for him, but the handling of his case belies the league's claims that the health of the players is its No. 1 priority. The most distressing fact that emerged from Thomas's hearing was that he received no evaluation or counseling until a full year after Tennant first suspected he might be dependent on drugs. His testing took place in a medical void. When asked if the failure of any doctor to discuss drugs with Thomas in 1987 violated NFL policy, Tennant said, "That may be true. And that's why there's follow-up testing."

More testing seems to be Tennant's answer to everything. The NFL's reasonable-cause testing is an open bear trap that can snap shut for almost any reason. It is revealing that a player is subject to reasonable-cause testing even when he volunteers for substance-abuse treatment, and thereafter he may be suspended the first time he tests positive. Instead of encouraging a player to seek help, the program may well discourage him.

The NFLPA complains about the league's expansionist approach to testing, but with union and management at poststrike loggerheads over their failure to produce a new collective-bargaining agreement, the players' association has done little more than protest. For his part, Tennant does not answer to players, the union, agents or scientists. After Dallas Cowboy cornerback Victor Scott was suspended in 1988 for allegedly testing positive for alcohol and cocaine, Mills, who is his agent, asked Dr. Rodger Foltz, an associate director of the Center for Human Toxicology at the University of Utah, to run a second analysis of Scott's urine sample. Moyer said in his interview with SI that any player has the right to request an independent retest of his sample, but this would come as news to Foltz, who spoke on the telephone with Tennant and was appalled by their conversation. "He said he didn't have enough sample left to send," said Foltz. "It was very puzzling. He raised some very troubling questions—like had we been paid off? He said there was a lot of money involved in professional sports. And he suggested that we were out to beat the system, or words to that effect. I told him we had no such intention. I thought that was totally inappropriate.

"I've talked to a number of professional colleagues about him. I haven't spoken with anyone who has much positive to say about Dr. Tennant. I have a real concern about [the NFL] program. The person who is directing it in my opinion does not have the knowledge and the professional respect that is needed. Anything that reflects poorly on a drug-testing program can reflect poorly on all drug testing programs. There are some that are reliable and well-controlled. I have serious doubts that the NFL's is."

Another expert troubled by Tennant is Ted Schramm, who operates a San Diego-based company that designs drug-testing programs for the workplace. "There are a significant number of physicians I would have selected over Tennant [to set up the NFL program], because they have a track record of wanting to help the player," says Schramm. "Media events are not helpful. We shouldn't be disclosing who's in trouble. If the name of the game is to play cops and robbers, [then random testing after one positive test is] fine. But if the idea is to help the person, then the physician should find the guy and say, 'We need to talk.' Also, if you're going to test, you must have a program you're going to follow when someone tests positive, and then everyone must be treated the same. The NFL seems to handle different people differently."

One of Rozelle's enduring legacies is a drug program that confirms the worst fears many people have about drug testing in the workplace. The NFL has seized upon the perception that professional sports has a drug problem, and has used that perception to try to improve the league's image and to manipulate players. The NFL tests players and retests them and suspends them and releases their names, and the public assumes that Rozelle & Co. mean business about drugs because they read about the suspensions in the newspaper. But the league has put its faith in a drug adviser who plays cop more than he does doc, and who has fashioned a drug program that lumps everybody together—addicts and nonaddicts, positives and false positives.

The lucky player is the one who smoked one joint and lost a bundle in the draft and had to be tested twice a week and maybe had to spend a month in a clinic being treated for a problem he never had. Considerably less lucky is the player who may have had to undergo all that and never even smoked a joint. Unluckiest of all is the player who is an addict and never gets any help.

PHOTOWILLIAM DUKE PHOTOAPTwo-faced talk: Rozelle tailored estimates of the drug problem to fit divergent audiences. PHOTOWILLIAM DUKECarelessness: Players' urine samples were vulnerable to tampering and contamination. PHOTOWILLIAM DUKEBad science: NFL tests may label passive inhalers of marijuana as drug users. PHOTOWILLIAM DUKEBad faith: The NFL's drug adviser allegedly has disclosed confidential test results. PHOTOWILLIAM DUKEMisdirection: Cocaine on the gridiron has elicited more cop than doc from the NFL.

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