BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo said he might sue the maker of an over-the-counter supplement after the NFL suspended him for the first four regular-season games without pay for violating the league's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances on Thursday.
The suspension begins Sept. 1 and ends following the game against Detroit on Sept. 30. He is eligible to participate in preseason games and practices.
Ayanbadejo insisted he did not take steroids, did not knowingly "infringe on the rules of the NFL performance-enhancing drug policy" and that he had passed "60-plus drug tests and never failed one."
"I've never had a problem at any level - collegiately, in the NFL," he said.
Ayanbadejo said he used a product called Max LMG, which decreases estrogen levels and boosts testosterone, for three weeks in January. He got tested that month, learned in April that he had failed and had an appeal hearing a few days before training camp opened.
"I am going to pursue civil action against the company," he said.
But while threatening to sue, Ayanbadejo also pointed a finger at himself. He said he should have sent a sample to the league for evaluation before using the product. He also said the punishment was too harsh and that the NFL's arbitrators should have more authority to reduce it if a player simply made an honest mistake.
"We're not idiots," said Ayanbadejo, entering his ninth NFL season and first with the Bears. "We can, for the most part, figure out when a guy's being genuine, if his story holds up -- which mine does. When a guy's getting a bad rap, which I think I am. We should give the arbitrator the ability to lessen the sentence when I had clean drug tests November, December, February, March, April and I took the supplement in January."
While the failed test and appeal hung over him, another issue arose on June 5.
That reunited Ayanbadejo with his brother Brendon, a linebacker who was his teammate with the Miami Dolphins in 2003.
"My intent was not to do anything wrong," Obafemi Ayanbadejo said. "I did not take a steroid. I would never do anything to embarrass my brother, my family, my kids, my friends, my teammates. It's unfortunate that this is what got me released."
Ayanbadejo has 513 yards rushing, 885 receiving and eight touchdowns in his career, but has specialized in special teams play.
"I do support the rules," he said. "I just have a little problem with the way they were executed. I wish somebody could come in and use reason and say, 'Hey, you know what? There's a difference between anabolic steroids that someone's injecting' and someone taking a supplement like I took."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press