A person familiar with Brian Cushing’s case says the Houston Texans linebacker tested positive for HCG, a fertility drug that is on the NFL’s banned substance list. The person tells The Associated Press that Cushing had one positive test last September, then subsequently tested negative several times. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because test results are supposed to remain confidential.
"He had one low-level positive test for HCG in September, and then every test after that was negative," the person said. "He has said he has no idea where the positive test came from."
HCG is widely taken by steroid users to help restart natural testosterone production. HCG can mitigate the side effects of ending a cycle of drugs. It’s also used to induce ovulation and treat ovarian disorders in women.
The Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year admitted taking a non-steroid banned substance, which is still considered performance-enhancing by the league.
The NFL has suspended Cushing for the first four games of next season. He won the AP’s NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honor in January for outstanding on-field performance. The AP is taking a revote for the award, plus for All-Pro outside linebacker. Cushing received five votes in that category and made the second team. He is still among the nominees in the revote.
All ballots in the revote are due by early Wednesday afternoon.
Cushing, a first-round draft pick out of Southern California, was a runaway winner for the rookie award in balloting by a nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters who cover the league. He received 39 votes, easily beating Buffalo safety Jairus Byrd, who had six. "This is the first time we’ve encountered an issue like this,” said Lou Ferrara, AP’s managing editor for sports and entertainment. "Because these awards are based on on-field performance, we consider it necessary to review the matter and allow for a revote, especially after concerns were raised by many of our voters.”
Cushing is suspended without pay until Oct. 4, although he can participate in offseason workouts, training camp and preseason games. He will not be eligible for next season’s Pro Bowl – he made the AFC team last January, but did not play, citing several injuries – or any NFL-sponsored awards.
Texans owner Robert McNair on Monday criticized the lack of information provided teams when a player has failed a drug test. He said he would like the testing system and lack of communication with the clubs addressed in the next collective bargaining agreement.
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith responded to those comments Tuesday in an e-mail to the AP:
"Sport is at its best when fans can witness great achievements under the rules of fair play. Players who break those rules cheat the game, cheat the fans and cheat themselves,” Smith wrote. “The players want a clean game as well as a clean process for enforcing those rules. We intend to address both in the collective bargaining process to make the system better.”