Julian Edelman's Substance Argument Invalid

"The cheaters are always one step ahead of the testers," Mark Schlereth says

After Hours with Amy Lawrence
June 28, 2018 - 10:13 am

USA Today Images

Julian Edelman is appealing his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy, arguing that the league mishandled his sample. He also feels it’s inherently unfair to suspend a player for testing positive for an unknown substance.

One of those arguments is valid, Mark Schlereth says. The other one? Not so much.

“Understand this,” the three-time Super Bowl champion said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “When you talk about, ‘They don’t know the substance,’ that is something that we as the public say, ‘That’s not fair.’ Well, that’s part of the rule today that is collectively bargained. Here’s what you have to understand: if it’s a PED violation, and if your testosterone levels are raised beyond what is recognized as coming from a natural state – and I believe the top level is a 2:1 testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio. So all of a sudden if you’re 3:1 to 4:1, that doesn’t naturally occur. 

“So even if we don't know what the drug is – because the cheaters are always one step ahead of the testers – it’s not natural to have a 4:1 testosterone-to-epitestosterone or 3:1 or whatever the case may be. So it doesn’t matter that we know what the drug is or not. That’s why the rule is written that way. Otherwise, people would just continue to come up with ways to raise your testosterone through anabolic steroids that people don’t know what they are – or some other type of drug that would raise your testosterone. That’s what that rule is in place. That is not a defense. You are not going to get off on that one. That’s why that rule is specifically written that way.”

The mishandled-sample argument, on the other hand, is more valid, albeit rare.

“As far as the chain-of-custody argument, that has happened one time,” Schlereth said. “Richard Sherman won a case against the NFL in 2012, and I think it’s the only time it happened. So if you can prove that sample wasn’t properly handled, then there’s the potential of getting off on that. But you’re not going to get off because (you) don’t know what the drug is. I don’t think that one will ever get you off because the rule is written specifically because, like I said, the cheaters are always a step or two ahead of the testers.”