Appeals court backs ruling on D.J. Williams suit

A federal appeals court on Monday has ruled against Denver

Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams, who had appealed the dismissal of

his lawsuit seeking to overturn a six-game drug suspension by the

NFL.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court

of Appeals affirmed District Judge Christine Arguello’s dismissal

of the lawsuit for substantially the same reasons she cited.

Arguello in June essentially backed an arbitrator who had upheld

the suspension and rejected arguments that the arbitrator exceeded

his power, engaged in misconduct, disregarded the law, or was

biased.

The appeals court ruling repeated Arguello’s reasoning that the

court’s role in such arbitration cases is simply to determine

whether the arbitrator abandoned the collective bargaining

agreement between the league and players union in making a

decision.

The NFL had said urine samples Williams provided last year

weren’t from a human. The specimen collector said he had watched

Williams provide the samples, though at times he watched from the

side rather than with a full frontal view, according to court

documents. The collector was later fired.

The arbitrator said it appeared Williams was involved with

substituting a specimen and that circumstantial evidence suggested

it was submitted either with knowledge of the specimen collector or

because of failure to follow protocol.

Williams had argued the NFL violated its own protocol leading up

to Williams’ suspension.

”We are obviously disappointed,” Williams’ attorney Peter

Ginsberg said in an email. ”By its own admission, the NFL failed

to follow the procedures mandated to assure the validity of the

samples. The NFL-designated arbitrator ignored those violations and

the NFL and its arbitrator have now escaped judicial scrutiny. And

D.J. Williams is the victim.”

He didn’t respond to a question asking whether Williams would

appeal.