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Dolphin failed drug test, sources say

SmokeDog420

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Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams faces a $650,000 fine after violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, sources told The Palm Beach Post.

This was Williams' second violation since he has been with the Dolphins, sources close to the case said.

Williams, 26, is appealing the fine that the league imposed when a drug test he took on Dec. 10, 2003, turned up positive for marijuana. Another failed test would result in a four-game suspension.

The sources said Williams was seen at NFL headquarters in New York on April 16, the date of the appeal.

"I'm in good standing with the NFL and the Dolphins," Williams said Friday. "There is not a story here. I was in New York a few weeks ago and I did visit the league headquarters.

"I guess that's how rumors get started. But I was just visiting friends in the city and I just decided to go in. I will be at training camp on Tuesday."

The sources said Williams' lawyer, high-profile Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney Gary Ostrow, accompanied him on his visit to the league offices.

"I'm not in a habit of discussing my relationship, professional or otherwise, with professional athletes," Ostrow said, adding that he would not comment further.

According to NFL documents seen by The Post, Ostrow filed arguments with the league titled "NFL vs. Player #909965J." In it, Ostrow questions the integrity of the league's drug-testing system.

Williams scored a 15 on the league's testing scale -- the NFL's lowest positive score and consistent with what an occasional marijuana user would score. Another sample came back at 14 (traces of marijuana at a concentration of 14 nanograms per milliliter of urine).

Under league policy, two samples are taken at test time. If the "A" sample is positive, the player can request that the "B" sample be tested. A second sample need only show that the substance is evident for the first sample to be declared valid.

"Ricky is pretty confident he's going to beat this thing," one source said. "When he took the test, for example, he was dehydrated after exercising. Dehydration sometimes causes people who would be negative to test positive."

Dr. Gary Wadler, professor of medicine at New York University and an international expert in doping, said he has never heard of an athlete using dehydration as a successful drug defense.

"Clearly, athletes will search every method they can, including analyzing each rule very precisely, the handling of the sample and the validity of the laboratory," Wadler said. "But marijuana is not a substance that occurs normally in the body and the only argument you can really make is passive inhalation. But for a cutoff above that level? You smoked. And you inhaled."

The league is expected to tell Williams of its decision at the end of the month.

"He's been in New York this week with all of the crap that's been going on," a source close to Williams said. "If they tested all of us for weed, half of America would be out of work. I know the guy who's helping us out is good because he used to do the drug stuff for the NFL. I know the attorney.... Ricky should come out of this all right."

The sum of $650,000 is consistent with the league's fining guidelines -- an amount four-seventeenths of a player's annual salary -- for someone who tests positive while in Stage Two of the NFL's intervention program. Williams, who said he is not in an intervention program, first tested positive for marijuana shortly after arriving in Miami from New Orleans in May 2002, sources said.

Because it was his first offense, he was put in Stage One of the intervention program, which lasts up to 60 days. In Stage Two, a player can be tested as many as 10 times a month. As determined by a medical director, he also must undergo weekly drug group-therapy sessions and call a special NFL hot line, sometimes hourly, to report his whereabouts.

"He was just weeks away from getting off the intervention program," one of the sources said. "Officially, he would have been off intervention on Super Bowl Sunday. He has tested negative more than 100 times before. But then this thing happened. He now gets back into intervention for another two years."

Dolphins spokesman Harvey Greene said the team "can't comment on any player because of the confidential nature of the program unless the league announces a suspension."
 
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