MINNEAPOLIS -- The NFL was considering whether to penalize Minnesota Vikings running back Onterrio Smith after it was revealed he was caught at the Twin Cities airport with an elaborate contraption designed to beat drug tests.
A search of a bag Smith was carrying April 21 turned up several vials of dried urine and a device called "The Original Whizzinator," which includes a fake penis, bladder and athletic supporter. An NFL spokesman said using the device during a drug test would be a violation of league drug policies, but it wasn't clear whether there were penalties for possessing one outside of a testing situation.
Airport police took an interest in Smith's possessions because the urine powder looked like cocaine, according to a police report of the April 21 incident, first reported in Wednesday's Star Tribune. Smith told police the dried urine was for his cousin. Smith was briefly questioned and then released.
The stakes are high for Smith, who has two strikes against him under the league's substance abuse policy. He got the second last season and was suspended for four games but was still the team's top rusher. Another violation could earn him a yearlong suspension.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said a league investigation would determine whether there should be a penalty for simply possessing a device designed to beat a drug test. He said the device Smith was carrying wouldn't have fooled the NFL.
"Our program requires that players be visually observed from the front giving the sample with their shirts off and pants down to
their knees, making the effectiveness of such an effort remote,"
he said in a prepared statement.
David Cornwell, an attorney representing Smith, declined to answer questions, instead issuing a statement that said the kit was given to Smith and the player put it in his bag and forgot about it. Cornwell said "it was obvious that (the kit) would be useless" in fooling the NFL's testing program.
Vikings coach Mike Tice would only say in a prepared statement that the team would "continue to monitor the situation as we would with any other and evaluate it from there."
Minnesota has already given up on one talented player whose behavior proved a distraction for the team. All-Pro receiver Randy Moss was traded to Oakland during the offseason, in part for such antics as leaving the field before the game had ended during a late-season loss last year.
Another receiver, Kelly Campbell, was arrested in Georgia in February on charges of possession of marijuana and theft by receiving stolen property involving a handgun. He remains with the team, however, practicing in the team's recent minicamp. He was slated for arraignment May 25.
Smith led the team in rushing last year with 544 yards after rushing for 579 yards as a rookie and is competing for the starting slot along with veteran Michael Bennett and second-year man Mewelde Moore. Smith, who dubbed himself the "steal of the draft" when he was taken in the fourth round in 2003, has proved durable and explosive.
Smith was detained at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport after a tube of toothpaste in his bag set off an alarm. A search of his bag discovered six or seven vials of white powder with the consistency of cocaine, according to report by the airport police.
After the powder tested negative for drugs, the report said, Smith told officers it was dried urine used in conjunction with a device called "The Original Whizzinator." The report's author wrote that Smith "told me that it was dried urine for making a clean urine test." In addition, Smith had a bottle of pills labeled "cleansing formula."
The "Whizzinator," advertised for $150 on the maker's Web site, includes a fake penis attached to an athletic supporter and plastic bag. The user fills the bag with water blended with urine powder. When the user takes a drug test in front of an observer, the water is released through the prosthetic with a valve.
Smith told police he was taking the vials to his cousin. The police report didn't say where Smith was traveling. Smith's agent, Douglas Hendrickson, didn't return repeated messages left at his office Wednesday.
In 2000, Smith was kicked out of Tennessee for using marijuana.
The Vikings aren't the only Minnesota team dealing with a drug-related incident.
Twins pitcher Juan Rincon is serving a 10-day suspension for violating major league baseball policies regarding performance-ehancing drugs. Rincon, a middle-reliever, denies knowingly taking a banned substance.