Lawyer claims three Saints players did not take steroids

NEW YORK -- The lawyer for three New Orleans Saints players facing suspension said Wednesday the NFL's independent drug adminstrator acknowledged he did not inform NFL players that the supplement StarCaps contained a banned diuretic.

During the players' appeals hearing, attorney David Cornwell said that Dr. John Lombardo's testimony proved none of his clients -- Deuce McAllister, Will Smith or Charles Grant -- took steroids.

Cornwell said in an e-mail that Lombardo testified he learned in late 2006 that StarCaps contained Bumetanide, a diuretic considered a masking agent for steroids. Lombardo's reasoning, according to Cornwell, is that "he feared that a specific warning regarding StarCaps could be used as a defense to alleged violations of the steroid policy that involved weight reduction products other than StarCaps."

The league said the hearing was confidential.

"Public comments during the process are totally inappropriate," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. "We will continue to respect the program's required confidentiality until there is a resolution."

McAllister, Grant and Smith are among several players identified as facing suspension after testing positive for Bumetanide. Others include defensive tackle Grady Jackson of the Atlanta Falcons and defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Williams' will have their appeal heard Thursday.

Cornwell said that Lombardo's failure to disclose the fact Bumetanide was in StarCaps "may have exposed NFL players to the significant health risks associated with the unintentional ingestion of diuretics."

"If Dr. Lombardo had notified NFL players that StarCaps contained Bumetanide, Will, Deuce and Charles would have never used the product to lose weight," Cornwell said.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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