February 8, 2011

Smith cleared to be suspended as Starcaps ligitation proceeds

Saints defensive end Will Smith, along with two Vikings and two former Saints players, have been cleared to be suspended by a ruling in Minnesota state court regarding the nearly three-year old Starcaps case.

The league won a victory over the union in this latest stage of the case, which stems from positive tests for a banned substance called bumetanide in 2008.  Starcaps contained a banned diuretic, and the players who tested positive were suspended even though Starcaps was on the league's list of allowed supplements.

The court ruling cleared the NFL of violating a Minnesota labor law regarding workplace drug tests, which would have legally only cleared the two Vikings players, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. But the NFL has declined to punish the players unevenly, staying the suspension for all players suspended.

The NFL was chastised in court for not notifying the union that Starcaps had been found to be tainted by banned supplements.

The players tested positive between 2005 and 2008.

Four Saints were stung by the suspension. Jamar Nesbit quietly served the four game suspension in the 2008 season and did not appeal. Nesbit lost his job to then-rookie Carl Nicks.  It wasn't until December that the larger picture of a Starcaps scandal had emerged.

Deuce McAllister, Charles Grant and Will Smith appealed, along with the two Vikings and Houston long snapper Bryan Pittman. Their appeal was denied in December 2008, when the suspensions were announced but stayed indefinitely.

Charles Grant and Pat Williams are now set to be free agents, Deuce McAllister has retired, and Jamar Nesbit and Bryan Pittman did not play in 2010. Kevin Williams and Will Smith remain the only active players who could miss the first four games of the 2011 season.

The Player's Union may appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

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