Through his twitter account, Richard Sherman announced today that he won his case appealing the suspension handed down from the NFL for a drug test in which Sherman allegedly tested positive for a banned substance. Sherman should not face further discipline or suspension. Teammate and fellow corner back Brandon Browner is currently serving a suspension for a positive test but will play in the playoffs.
Before looking at Sherman’s argument, many outside observers had already condemned both corner backs. The logic of jumping to this conclusion is that two teammates who both start at the same position, who get caught and punished at the same time for taking a banned substance, could easily be taking said substance together. This logic must now be turned on its head just like the Sherman ruling, which leads to a lot of questions about what really happened behind closed doors.
We may never know exactly what happened in reality when it comes to Sherman and Browner, but we know something went wrong. There are two facts we cannot ignore. 1. At one point there were positive test results for a banned substance in Richard Sherman. 2. Sherman won his appeal and the test has been deemed invalid.
Those two facts cannot exists together in reality, so this lead us to one of two conclusions. Either 1. There was a banned substance in Sherman’s blood and somehow the discipline system failed and he was able to avoid punishment. Or 2. There were no banned substances in Sherman’s system and somehow the test was a false positive and Sherman is the victim of a very serious false accusation. The difficult part is determining which would be worse.
Many writers and fans are eager to say that we are past the era of performance enhancing drugs, we are not. Although the substance in the Sherman case, Adderall, is usually used to treat ADHD, it also falls in the category of a performance enhancing drug. The process of testing for these PEDs either falsely accused a hard-working player, or let a cheater off of the hook. As more cases get overturned, it becomes hard to trust the system we have in place to monitor banned substances. Until we can trust the system we have to catch actual perpetrators and hold them accountable, without falsely accusing the innocent, I am not ready to close the book on the PED era.