Jan 13, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Seattle Seahawks starting defensive backs Earl Thomas (29), Brandon Browner (39), Richard Sherman (25), Kam Chancellor (31) take the field for warm-ups prior to facing the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC divisional playoff game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The Seahawks And Their So-Called PED Problem

The narrative being pushed by the media this past weekend, both local and national, is that the Seattle Seahawks have a serious and growing performance-enhancing drug (PED) problem. They site the 7 PED suspensions that have happened during Pete Carroll’s tenure. 

Unfortunately, the real facts don’t back up this storyline. Four of the cited suspensions have nothing to do with any so-called PED problem the Seahawks might have:

  • Offensive lineman Allen Barbre tested positive in 2011, the year before he joined the Seahawks. The Seahawks signed him before the suspension was announced. The team cut him rather than putting him on the roster.
  • Fullback Via Taua tested positive just after being signed to the practice squad. He had been a free agent just trying to land with a team before that. 
  • Offensive lineman John Moffitt tested positive for a substance that is legal in the NFL if the player has a prescription. Moffitt has a prescription, and has had it for years. The only reason he was suspended was because he and the team doctor didn’t properly file all the necessary paperwork on time. 
  • Cornerback Richard Sherman appealed his suspension and won, something that is supposed to be virtually impossible given today’s tests and testing protocols. Sherman was able to prove that his test sample had been tampered with. 

That leaves just 3 legitimate positive tests during Carroll’s tenture as head of coach of the Seahawks: safety Winston Guy, cornerback Brandon Browner, and the recent suspension of defensive end Bruce Irvin. Those  3 suspensions would put the Seahawks right in the middle of the pack with the rest of the NFL teams.

If the Seahawks do have a problem, it is not properly educating rookies on the NFL’s PED policies. 2 of the 3 legitimate suspension have come from rookies, as was John Moffitt’s paperwork problem. Even that fact goes against the accusations of a PED culture in Seattle, since once players are acclimated into the team they are unlikely to test positive.

But why let facts get in the way of good storyline.

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  • goldenbaysports

    If it were up to me, any player caught taking PEDs should be suspended for life. It is basically CHEATING, and that has no place not only in sports, but in society.

    Not just referring to the Seahawks here, but any player across any sport.

    • 12thMan_Rising

      The problem with a “one strike and you’re out” policy is that there are so many banned substances that you can walk into a GNC or heath food store and buy. These guys take protein supplements and stuff to help them keep their weight up, some of those supplements contained banned stuff, while other dont. Mistakes happen.

      • goldenbaysports

        How do you differentiate between a “mistake” and a purposeful intake of PEDs? Any player can take a banned substance and say that he never knew that what it was (see: Barry Bonds).

        To me, it’s plain and simple. The NFL has a list of banned substances. NFL players should be aware of what they are intaking in their supplements. If they there is a banned substance in there, then guess what, it’s a banned substance!

        • Hanley H. Bonynge

          That’s just an impractical expectation. What is cheating going to be defined as? Technically, committing a penalty on the field could be cheating. Belichick cheated by filming other teams’ walk-throughs and signs. Players found with substances that aren’t differentiated in any way, intentionally or not, is cheating. Under your proposed system, this punishes only players and not front offices or the league for “cheating.”

        • ricefield

          I agree with you in principal, but the problem is the NFL wants the players to be more diligent than they are themselves. If a player takes a product with a banned substance with the substance not listed on the product’s ingredients he is still at fault. That is b.s. to me. I guess the NFL needs a testing lab that players can submit a product for testing.

  • Hanley H. Bonynge

    Much like US drug policy, NFL drug policy is ridiculous and outdated. Grouping substances like Adderall with HGH and other steroids makes no sense. And when it comes down to it, Adderall being ok for some to use but not others emphasizes the ridiculousness.

    1) Anybody can get a prescription, so the NFL is really punishing stupidity.

    2) If Adderall truly is performance enhancing (and that is heavily disputed), then those that are just a little ADD/ADHD are getting a much bigger benefit than those who are truly and very much ADD/ADHD.

    I’m all for fair play and believe in a level playing field, but this isn’t it. Especially in a country that can’t decide if Adderall and Ritalin are considered cheating in schools or not. If it isn’t cheating in schools, I’m not sure it can be cheating in sports.