The NFL will conduct hearings Monday and Tuesday for the bulk of eight pending cases of players who tested for banned supplements under the league's steroid and performance-enhancement policy, according to sources.
Most of those players face an uphill battle with four-game suspensions looming that could affect the league's divisional races.
Those cases include Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams; the New Orleans Saints' Deuce McAllister, Will Smith and Charles Grant; and the Atlanta Falcons' Grady Jackson.
If they are denied their appeal, the players will be suspended for four games. After their hearings, both sides will file briefs and a decision is expected within the next 10 to 14 days.
The Saints' players are basing part of their appeal on allegations that the banned diuretic, Bumetanide, was not listed on the label of StarCaps, a weight-control supplement. Specifically, McAllister is claiming that he had the product cleared three or four years ago by the league's steroid administrator, and therefore recommended it to his teammates, sources said.
However, league sources say such a contention is a baseless argument because players are reminded that even though a product like StarCaps may not list the banned diuretic on its label, they are at risk with any supplement that is not regulated by the FDA.
Even more damaging to the players' cases, sources say that Dr. John Lombardo, the administrator of the steroids and performance enhancement policy, had issued additional warnings in 2007 and 2008 about diuretics and water pills, as well as listing the maker of StarCaps as a company that produces banned substances.
Last week, Jackson filed suit in Alameda County Superior Court in California against the manufacturer of StarCaps. He is seeking restitution for any lost salary and damages for "false advertising and unfair business practices."
Saints offensive guard Jamar Nesbit, who also tested positive for Bumetanide, filed suit against StarCaps in October in federal court in New Jersey. He already served the four-game suspension, but wants to recoup $235,294 in lost salary from the maker of StarCaps.
Chris Mortensen is a senior NFL analyst for ESPN.