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Tuesday, December 3
Peppers suspended for final four games

Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Star rookie defensive end Julius Peppers of the Carolina Panthers was suspended Tuesday for the final four games of the season for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

Peppers' agent, Marvin Demoff, told the league Tuesday morning that he was withdrawing an appeal of the suspension. Demoff said last month that the league told him Peppers tested positive for a banned substance in a dietary supplement.

League and team sources confirmed for that Peppers tested positive for Phentermine, which is typically prescribed as an appetite suppressant and contains the stimulant ephedra.

"It's disappointing for me, the Panthers and the fans and everybody,'' Peppers said in a conference call Tuesday afternoon. "I wish I could finish the season. I'm just going to get over it and come back next year and be even stronger.''

The 22-year-old defensive lineman ranks third in the NFL with 12 sacks but will end his season short of Jevon Kearse's rookie record of 14. He will be eligible to play in the Pro Bowl if selected.

"Obviously when you lose a player of his caliber and it is disappointing,'' Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said. "But we've known this was a possibility for a few weeks. So we're not surprised by it.''

Demoff wouldn't say what supplement Peppers had taken.

"We didn't not want the suspension to affect some of the 2003 season,'' Demoff said. "Julius did not want to do that. Julius is going to stand up and admit he made a mistake, although unwittingly, and learn from it.''

An All-American at North Carolina, Peppers left after his junior year and was the No. 2 overall pick in April's draft.

The Panthers are 4-8 and have been eliminated from playoff contention.

"I guess if he had to be suspended, we would have preferred it to be over this season and not affect next year,'' Hurney said.

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