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Eagles LT Lane Johnson: 'NFLPA does not stand up for players'

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Eagles left tackle Lane Johnson, facing a possible suspension for a performance-enhancing supplement, criticized policies from the NFL Players Association regarding supplement use on Saturday.

The NFLPA gives players an app, called Aegis Shield, which they can use to check substances.

"Every substance I've taken has been approved by the Aegis Shield app, which the NFLPA gives us," Johnson said. "That's the only thing the NFLPA gives us to test our products.

"I feel like the players have no rights. The supplement industry is not regulated, so you do not know what's in it. That's hard to believe, coming from a second-time offender, but I want that to be clear -- that the NFLPA does not stand up for players.

"They don't check the supplements. They give us an app. Then if you call and ask them if you test positive for something they approve, it doesn't matter."

George Atallah, the NFLPA's assistant director for external affairs, said in email that Johnson "is mistaken. NFLPA does not approve supplements.

"While the App may have listed it with a green check, players are reminded within the app, at team meetings and as part of the policy that a) supplements may contain stuff not on the label and b) there is still strict liability for putting it in your body if it contains something not on the label," Atallah wrote.

The NFLPA responded to Johnson via statement on Saturday.

"We always stand up for the rights of our players," the statement read. "Mr. Johnson's statements are factually inaccurate and we have been in touch with both Lane and his agent, who now understand the facts.

"The NFLPA does not approve any supplements or substances. Since 2012 and at the request of player leadership, we have had a partnership with Aegis that provides a mobile app as a resource for players to check listed ingredients on a supplement to see if it is on the banned list. We constantly remind all players that even if a supplement is "checked green" the supplement provider may not list certain ingredients therein that a player can test positive for.

"This slide is used at every team meeting to inform players about the Aegis App and other aspects of the drug policies. This same information is distributed to agents as well.

"For several years, the NFLPA has provided a free service to every NFL player who wishes to have us test a supplement they send to us and this service was offered to Lane."

Johnson, 26, said it should take "two or three weeks" for his B sample to be tested. If the same banned substance -- a peptide, which is a combination of amino acids -- turns up in the B sample, Johnson is subject to a 10-game suspension.

"It doesn't matter," Johnson said. "I'm still going to get suspended. NFL players use the Aegis Shield app, which the NFLPA gives us, but they do not test the products. If you test positive, that's your own fault."

Johnson was suspended for four games in 2014 after testing positive for a banned substance. Johnson said he had taken a prescribed medication without checking it with the Eagles' medical staff.

"The first time, I was at fault," Johnson said. "There is no worse feeling than to have to go through this again. This is something I desperately wanted to avoid. It's nothing I ever want to be a part of again."

Johnson said he bought an amino acid supplement online.

"It's been a nightmare," he said. "I've known this for a couple weeks now. That's been the hardest thing. The last thing I want to be labelled as is a cheater."