The headline says it all. Richard Sherman won his appeal and has been cleared to play for Sunday’s game against the Rams and for the playoffs.
A few minutes ago, Richard Sherman posted this to his twitter account:
@nfl for upholding the truth! To the 12s Thank you your faith is rewarded! Thank you lord
And in case that wasn’t clear enough, he added this a minute later:
The NFL has not announced anything officially yet, but that is expected any minute now. Informing Sherman needed to happen before any official announcement. That phase is apparently complete now.
Sherman was appealing his 4 game suspension for using performance enhancing drugs. The suspension was announced almost a month ago, but Sherman was able to play during his appeal. His case was heard last Friday, and the results of that appeal were due to be announced today.
These type of appeals are usually impossible to win. The failed test is difficult to disprove. The NFL also care about circumstances. An “accidental” result doesn’t matter. If the substance is in your system, then you’re guilty.
The only way to win an appeal such as this is to prove that there was tampering or some sort of procedural error, but it falls on the player to prove that this happened. The league does not have to prove that it didn’t happen.
That is exactly what happened in this case. According to Sherman, there was a “chain of evidence” problem with his test. The urine cup used was leaking, so the testing agent put his cup inside of another, nonsterile and unsealed, cup.
This is an obvious violation of testing protocol. The 2nd cup could have contained anything, including what led to the positive test. Or it could have contained nothing and the test results were valid. There’s absolutely no way to know, so there’s also no way the league could get away with upholding Sherman’s suspension.
Seattle other starting CB, Brandon Browner, tested positive at the same time and originally appealed his suspension as well. After consulting with his legal team, he decided that the likelihood of winning was too low, and elected to drop his appeal and serve his suspension so he’d be back in time for the playoffs.