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Ayanbadejo gets four-game suspension for first-time offense

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo said he might sue the maker of an over-the-counter
supplement after the NFL suspended him for the first four
regular-season games without pay for violating the league's policy
on anabolic steroids and related substances on Thursday.

The suspension begins Sept. 1 and ends after a game
against Detroit on Sept. 30. He is eligible to participate in
preseason games and practices.

Ayanbadejo insisted he did not take steroids, did not knowingly
"infringe on the rules of the NFL performance-enhancing drug
policy'' and that he had passed "60-plus drug tests and never
failed one.''

"I've never had a problem at any level -- collegiately, in the
NFL,'' he said.

Ayanbadejo said that for three weeks in January he used a product called Max LMG, which
decreases estrogen levels and boosts testosterone. He got tested that month, learned in April that he had failed and had an appeal hearing a few days before training camp
opened.

"I am going to pursue civil action against the company,'' he
said.

But while threatening to sue, Ayanbadejo also pointed a finger
at himself. He said he should have sent a sample to the league for
evaluation before using the product. He also said the punishment
was too harsh and that the NFL's arbitrators should have more
authority to reduce it if a player simply made an honest mistake.

"We're not idiots,'' said Ayanbadejo, entering his ninth NFL
season and first with the Bears. "We can, for the most part,
figure out when a guy's being genuine, if his story holds up --
which mine does. When a guy's getting a bad rap, which I think I
am. We should give the arbitrator the ability to lessen the
sentence when I had clean drug tests November, December, February,
March, April and I took the supplement in January.''

While the failed test and appeal hung over him, another issue
arose June 5.

The Arizona Cardinals waived him after three seasons -- because
of the test result, according to Ayanbadejo. The Bears, apparently,
had no such reservations and signed him to a one-year deal a week
later.

"He was up front right away,'' coach Lovie Smith said after
practice on Thursday night. "He told us what happened, and we took
it from there.''

The move to his native Chicago reunited the
32-year-old Ayanbadejo with his brother Brendon, a linebacker who
was his teammate with the Miami Dolphins in 2003. Brendon
Ayanbadejo, who's a year younger, said his brother told him about
the failed test around 2 a.m. one morning while they were
vacationing in Las Vegas.

"I was really upset,'' he said. "But we're just glad that it's
over with. We're glad that he has an answer and he knows where he
stands now. ... We're moving on. We're trying to put it behind us.
But all the time leading up until we got the answer from the NFL
and fighting the appeal, it was a lot more stressful.''

Obafemi Ayanbadejo insisted he's not a cheater.

"My intent was not to do anything wrong,'' he said. "I did not
take a steroid. I would never do anything to embarrass my brother,
my family, my kids, my friends, my teammates. It's unfortunate that
this is what got me released from Arizona.''

Ayanbadejo has 513 yards rushing, 885 receiving and eight
touchdowns in his career, but he has specialized in special teams
play.

"I do support the rules,'' he said. "I just have a little
problem with the way they were executed. I wish somebody could come
in and use reason and say, 'Hey, you know what? There's a
difference between anabolic steroids that someone's injecting' and
someone taking a supplement like I took.''