ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is reporting that former Duke and current Tennessee Titans linebacker Ryan Fowler has been notified by the NFL that he is facing a suspension due to a violation of the league’s Performance Enhancing Drugs policy. Although Fowler’s lawyer has emphatically stated that his client has never failed a drug or steroid test, the NFL said in a letter to Fowler that it “had ‘credible information’ Fowler ‘purchased, used or supplied’ performance enhancing drugs.”
Fowler graduated from Duke in 2004 after serving as a senior captain during the 2003 season. Fowler went undrafted in the 2004 draft but caught on with the Dallas Cowboys as a special teams player before earning additional playing time with the Cowboys in subsequent seasons. The Titans signed Fowler in 2007 as a restricted free agent.
If Fowler is suspended even with the lack of a positive drug test, it would seem that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is following the pattern of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, who suspended Kansas City’s Jose Guillen and Baltimore’s Jay Gibbons in December 2007 on similar grounds. Significant circumstantial evidence about both player’s PED use had been released in media reports, and Selig imposed his suspension in the absence of either player testing positive for PEDs. However, an early April agreement between the MLB and the MLB Players Association that strengthened the MLB drug testing program provided an amnesty clause that absolved the Guillen and Gibbons suspensions. A legal challenge or similar compromise could be likely down the road for Fowler.
—by Will Flaherty