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NFL suspends Bengals DE Odom four games for PED violation

The NFL rejected Antwan Odom's appeal on Friday and suspended the Bengals defensive end four games for violating its policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Odom was suspended before the start of the season but appealed, hoping to have the suspension reduced or eliminated. The league stuck with the full four games.

He likely would have missed the next couple of games anyway. Odom hurt his right knee during a 24-21 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday and wore a brace this week. The Bengals (2-3) have their bye this weekend.

After the rest of the team worked out on Wednesday before dispersing, Odom said he would probably be sidelined for a game or two after the bye because of the knee injury. He will be eligible to return from the suspension on Monday, Nov. 15 and would be eligible to play a home game against Buffalo the following Sunday.

Odom will lose $1.2 million during his suspension, according to's Steve Wyche.

David Cronwell, Odom's attorney, released a statement Friday contending that Odom's positive test was the result of a mistakenly ingested weight loss pill prescribed to his wife.

"Antwan did not take a steroid or any other performance enhancing substance. While driving after midnight from Alabama to Cincinnati to report to training camp, Antwan's wife mistakenly opened her prescription pill bottle instead of Antwan's and gave him one of her prescription weight loss pills instead of Antwan's medicine. Naturally, Antwan's preseason urine test was positive for his wife's medicine.

"The NFL did not dispute the facts in this case and accepted the Cincinnati Bengals' weight records showing that Antwan's target reporting weight was 275 lbs. and that he actually reported at 255 lbs., confirming that Antwan had no reason to take a weight loss medicine. The steroid program's administrator, Dr. John Lombardo, testified that no competitive advantage was gained by this mistake and that no physical difference would be apparent to Antwan from taking his wife's medicine as opposed to his own.

"Harold Henderson, the hearing officer designated by Commissioner Goodell to hear Antwan's appeal, found 'credible and convincing evidence that Mr. Odom inadvertently took medicine prescribed for his wife,' yet, Mr. Henderson concluded that as 'sympathetic as this case may be' and though a four game suspension may be 'unfairly harsh,' he lacked the authority to alter the discipline."

Cornwell argued that Odom's case demonstrates the need to reform the league's discipline regarding drug testing.

"While the NFL and the NFLPA maneuver for upcoming collective bargaining negotiations, Antwan's case is a stark reminder that the issues they will consider impact men's lives. The strict liability rule in the steroid program enabled the NFL's lawyers to argue that the facts did not matter in Antwan's case. Tell that to Antwan and his wife, Brooke, the Bengals and their fans, and to any fair-minded person who recognizes that as legitimate as the objectives of the NFL's steroid program may be, none of these objectives is served by Antwan's suspension."

Odom has long contended he has never used performance-enhancing drugs. When the suspension was revealed in the preseason, he tweeted: "Yes, I tested positive for a banned substance but it wasn't steroids or (performance-enhancing drugs). More details to come but for now it's a league issue that's under appeal. Just know that I would never cheat to gain an edge in this game that I love."

Odom tore his right Achilles' tendon last season, but made a full recovery and was ready for training camp. He has started three games and missed time with an injured left wrist. Odom led the team with eight sacks last season even though he played in only six games because of the injury.

He has no sacks and only eight tackles -- tied for 12th on the team -- this season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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