A few AFC East players tested positive for bumetanide in 2006 and 2007, but were improperly granted clemency by the NFL's drug-testing administrator, court records obtained by St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter Brian Murphy suggest.
Deposition transcripts reveal Miami Dolphins tackle Vernon Carey, New York Jets right tackle Damien Woody (with the Detroit Lions at the time), former New England Patriots fullback Patrick Pass, former Patriots defensive end Marquise Hill, former Buffalo Bills cornerback Nate Clements, former Bills running back Damion Shelton and former Bills and Patriots receiver Jonathan Smith also failed drug tests but were exonerated.
All of the positive tests were linked to StarCaps. The diuretic contained bumetanide, a substance banned by the NFL because it's a common steroid-masking agent because it dilutes urine.
The Pioneer Press story explained Dr. John Lombardo, who oversaw the NFL's testing procedures, exonerated the players because they told him they ingested bumetanide unwittingly. But the NFL does not accept ignorance as a defense under its drug policy.
When Woody tested positive in August 2007 but was not referred to the league for discipline, the deposition stated NFL vice president Adolpho Birch confronted Lombardo.
"I essentially said I didn't feel comfortable setting the score without warning players they were going to be disciplined for diuretics," Lombardo said in his deposition.
"We knew about this StarCaps stuff, and so I think at that point I probably just explained to [Lombardo] 'What are you talking about?' " Birch said in his deposition. "The policy is that diuretics, if this is the result of inadvertent use through a supplement, that's a violation under the policy as clear as day and I don't understand what was going on."
Pat and Kevin Williams are suing the NFL to have their four-game suspensions overturned.