NFL

Sherman: Urine sample compromised

Online OT: Seahawks clinch playoff spot in win over 49ers.
Online OT: Seahawks clinch playoff spot in win over 49ers.
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Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman just may get out of his suspension after all.

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This could be a season of destiny for the Harbaugh-led 49ers. See who's in the playoffs, and when they play.

Sherman has been fighting his four-game ban for a violation of the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy for almost a month since word came down on Nov. 25 that he and teammate Brandon Browner failed their tests. While Browner is serving his suspension, Sherman is claiming the cup that contained his urine sample was leaking, which forced the collector to use a second cup to capture the leakage.

Since the collector had to break the seal on the second cup, the chain of custody was broken. Because the seal was broken, the urine sample could become contaminated. If the story holds up, Sherman’s suspension could be wiped out.

Sherman missed two days of practice this week while his appeal was heard, but any lack of preparation for the 49ers didn't show in Sunday's 42-13 win over the 49ers. Sherman had a fourth-quarter interception in the end zone, four passes defensed, and he returned a blocked field goal 90 yards for a touchdown.

Afterward he was confident and cocky, wishing 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, his former coach at Stanford, a happy birthday — "Hope you enjoyed it," he crowed — and discussing his appeal of the league's ruling.

''It should go well. There was a chain of custody mistake. There were mistakes made by the tester,'' Sherman said. ''The league's argument was they're allowed to make mistakes and they're allowed to break the rules and they can get away with it. It's up to them. The appeal officer is paid by the league so if he goes their way, that's what it is. It's not an even playing field in that appeal room.''

Sherman didn't have an idea of when a decision would come on his appeal. He will pursue the appeal further if he can.

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''I wish I could. I don't know if it's possible,'' Sherman said. ''If I could pursue it further, because I'd win in a neutral court, but I don't know if I can pursue it further.''

Browner dropped his appeal on Dec. 5 and was suspended for the final four games of the regular season. Browner will return and be eligible to play for the Seahawks in the playoffs. If Sherman's suspension is upheld, he would miss the playoffs. He said the process hasn't been a distraction.

''Not at all,'' he said. ''I've faced worse than that throughout my whole life. Nothing little like that can hold you back.''

NESN and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tagged: 49ers, Seahawks, Brandon Browner, Richard Sherman

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