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Friday, May 07, 2010
Breaking Down the Latest Development in the Star Caps Saga

I have a new column up over at the Huffington Post that takes a closer look at the latest development in the StarCaps case.

Here's an excerpt:

The StarCaps saga took yet another turn on Thursday when Minnesota state court Judge Gary Larson finally answered the basic question of the case--can the NFL suspend Pat and Kevin Williams? It took almost 2 years to get there, but Judge Larson concluded that Minnesota law does not prevent the NFL from suspending the Williamses. So, in one sense, this was a victory for the NFL.

But, there is also a loss wrapped inside this victory. Since this case began, the NFL has been seeking a determination--first from the federal courts, then Congress, and now Minnesota state court--that the NFL's drug policies trump state law, so that players cannot resort to state laws to challenge drug suspensions. The NFL did not get that sweeping pronouncement from the federal courts, Congress, or from Judge Larson.


Judge Larson made 4 key findings that led to his ultimate conclusion that the NFL may suspend the Williamses: 1. The NFL is the employer of the Williamses for purposes of DATWA; 2. The NFL violated DATWA's three-day notice requirement; 3. The Williamses were not harmed by the NFL's violation of the notice requirement; 4. The Williamses failed to prove that the NFL violated DATWA's confidentiality provision.


Judge Larson also spent a surprising amount of time chastising the NFL throughout the opinion. For example, although Judge Larson could not determine that the NFL was responsible for leaking the results of the Williamses' positive tests, he noted that "the media leak was clearly of no importance to the NFL Commissioner, as he did nothing to determine that the NFL did not violate DATWA's confidentiality provision... Judge Larson also addressed the NFL's failure to notify the players that StarCaps contained bumetanide, despite the fact that the league became aware that StarCaps contained the banned substance as far back as 2006....Judge Larson added that the NFL directed the drug policy administrator "to report any future players for discipline who tested positive for Bumetanide, even though their use thereof was inadvertent." Judge Larson thus concluded that the NFL "was playing a game of 'gotcha.'"


You can find the full column here, and you can follow me on twitter here.


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