The long and winding road involving a weight-loss supplement and two very large defensive linemen for the Minnesota Vikings appears to approaching its end.
Instead of the automatic four-game suspension under the previous CBA, the NFL and Players Association will implement a two-tiered system of discipline -- two-game suspensions for testing positive for diuretics; six games for testing positive for steroids.
Kevin Williams and former teammate Pat Williams were initially suspended four games in 2008 for using StarCaps, which contained a banned diuretic that can mask the presence of steroids. The players waged a long fight against the suspensions through federal and state courts, and the league allowed them to play pending a final resolution of the case.
The Williamses, who were never accused of taking steroids, said they didn't know StarCaps contained illicit substance bumetanide, which wasn't listed on the label.
Kevin Williams gave up the fight to avoid suspension in March because he was tired of the litigation, his attorney told The Associated Press. Pat Williams is currently a free agent.
In April, the Minnesota Supreme Court cleared the way for the NFL to suspend Pat Williams by declining to consider Williams' appeal of a decision that had gone against both him and Kevin Williams.
The case was watched by other major sports leagues -- including Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NHL -- that supported the NFL and said their drug-testing programs would be at risk if players were allowed to challenge drug-testing policies in state courts. The NFL argued its anti-doping policy was a product of its collective bargaining agreement with the players' union and was governed by federal law.
According to a union official who spoke on condition of anonymity, negotiations setting up when the ban will begin will likely go into the regular season, extending the StarCaps odyssey ever further.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.