Browns

Gordon Suspended: A Look At The NFL’s Substance Abuse Program

By DARYL RUITER, 92.3 The Fan Browns Beat Reporter
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Cleveland Browns WR #13 Josh Gordon (credit: Chris J Allen/92.3 The Fan)

Cleveland Browns WR #13 Josh Gordon (credit: Chris J Allen/92.3 The Fan)

DarylRuiter_300 Daryl Ruiter
Cleveland Browns beat writer and member of the Pro Football Writers of...
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CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The 2-game suspension of Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon has raised a few questions of what could happen next should he test positive again for a banned substance.

Gordon was suspended for the first 2 games of the 2013 regular season and fined a total of 4/17 of his base salary, which will cost him approximately $150,000.

He will miss the opener Sept. 8 at home against Miami and week 2 at Baltimore on Sept. 15.

Gordon said Friday in a statement released by the Browns that he tested positive for Codeine, which is often found in cough syrup. Gordon said that he had strep throat in February and that the medicine was prescribed.

Prescription or not, the league has a no tolerance policy when it comes to banned substances and barring a variance received from the league office – prior to ingestion – disciplinary action follows.

The league office is not permitted to announce any specifics in relation to a failed drug test – including the substance for which the player tested positive – just the disciplinary action taken in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Here’s a look at how the league’s substance abuse program works as outlined in the annual “NFL League Policies For Players” booklet.

The NFL’s substance abuse program has 3 stages and comes with different consequences in each stage starting with a fine, then suspension(s) or even a year long ban should players violate it repeatedly.

A player can enter “Stage One” of the league’s intervention program if they test positive or exhibit physical, behavioral or psychological signs or symptoms of misuse of substances of abuse or enroll in the program on their own. The first stage typically lasts 90 days.

A violation while in “Stage One” results in a fine of 3/17 of a player’s base salary for the season and they are advanced to “Stage Two” of the program.

A player is notified if they are advanced to “Stage Two,” which then subjects them to unannounced testing of up to 10 times per month, and they remain in the program for 24 months or 2 full seasons, whichever is shorter, from entry into “Stage Two” or from a violation.

Violations in “Stage Two” result in the following:

- 1st violation: 4/17 of the amount of the players base salary for the season (or a 4-game suspension if the player did not successfully complete Stage One).
– 2nd violation: 4-game suspension (or a 6-game suspension if a player was suspended for the first violation in Stage Two).

Players are advanced to “Stage Three” of the program if they have 2 positive tests, 2 other violations of the treatment plan or policy, or combination of both. A Player would continue to be subjected to unannounced testing up to 10 times per month and players remain in the program for the rest of their career.

A violation while in “Stage Three” of the program results in a suspension of at least 1 year.

Depending where Gordon is in the program, which likely is “Stage Two” since he was suspended, his next offense could cost him 6 games or even a 1-year ban if the league has already advanced him to “Stage Three.”

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