Thanks to my friend Mike for today’s topic suggestion. (Yes, I do take requests as long as the topic is not so controversial that I’ll lose readers.)
Today’s topic is a sticky one – the NFL’s recent attempted suspensions of six players for using a diuretic called Bumetanide found in StarCaps, an over-the-counter weight loss supplement.
Mike believes the players should not be suspended, and here is why: The NFL wants to suspend these players because StarCaps could aid in masking steroids. But Mike maintains that unless you can prove these players were using steroids they should not be suspended.
People who disagree with Mike might say that the league’s policy is, “If you use illegal substances you will be suspended,” and there should be no exceptions. I agree with that, too, but here’s the caveat: the NFL has authored a long laundry list of banned substances, and StarCaps was not on the list prior to all this happening. Further, the players say that StarCaps doesn’t list all its ingredients on the label.
I’m not a scientist, so I will never be able to tell you if using StarCaps could or could not give users a competitive advantage. But based on my limited knowledge, I agree with Mike’s take – just for a little different reason: How can you penalize the players if the ingredients in question aren’t on the label and no one (trainers or NFL officers) ever warned them about any consequences if the product is used? Ordinarily, I’d say you can’t use ignorance as a defense, but I think you can here. Plus, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. If you want to punish them, fine them or maybe make them sit out one game. A four-game suspension is excessive in my opinion, because there was no blatant attempt to break any rule here.
Note: Before the suspensions could begin, a federal judge has at least temporarily overturned them. The judge proclaimed the NFL could not suspend the players until he had more time to consider their case.
What do you think? Should these players be suspended? Why or why not? I welcome your comments.