League decides Texans' Cushing must serve four-game ban

METAIRIE, La. -- Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing had his four-game suspension for taking a performance-enhancing drug upheld by the NFL on Thursday, which means he won't be eligible to play until October.

The reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year was suspended in May for testing positive for HCG, a fertility drug that is on the league's banned substances list. Cushing claims that he has a unique medical condition that triggered the positive test.

"At the request of Texans owner Bob McNair, Commissioner (Roger) Goodell reviewed additional medical information presented on behalf of Brian Cushing," the NFL said in a statement. "The club and Cushing were notified today that after carefully considering all the information, including a review by outside medical experts, the commissioner finds no basis for changing the decision that Mr. Cushing's suspension for the first four games of the regular season remains in place."

Cushing will miss games against the Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders before becoming eligible to return Oct. 10, when the Texans play host to the New York Giants.

Cushing missed practice Thursday because of a foot injury and wasn't available to comment.

The former first-round draft pick started every game at outside linebacker last season, making 133 tackles and helping solidify the Houston defense. The Texans went 9-7, their first winning record in their eight-year franchise history, but just missed the AFC playoffs.

Xavier Adibi, a third-year pro who started five games in 2008, has backed up Cushing during training camp. The Texans also might move starting weakside linebacker Zac Diles into Cushing's place.

"We move forward. One guy goes down, the next guy just steps in," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "Expectations don't drop. We just keep pushing."

Cushing's suspension doesn't apply to the preseason. The Texans play the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints on Saturday at the Louisiana Superdome, after practicing with the team Wednesday and Thursday.

Asked whether he expects Cushing to play, Texans coach Gary Kubiak replied: "I sure hope so."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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