Vikings' Kevin and Pat Williams to meet with NFL

NEW YORK -- Minnesota Vikings defensive linemen Kevin and Pat Williams were to meet with NFL officials to appeal their suspensions after testing positive for a weight-loss diuretic considered a masking agent for steroids.

The hearing was to be followed Tuesday by additional appeals for three New Orleans Saints: running back Deuce McAllister and defensive ends Charles Grant and Will Smith.

All are subject to four-game suspensions. There is no indication when the NFL's decision will be announced.

The league estimates that six to eight players have been identified as testing positive for the banned substance Bumetanide. It is contained in an over-the-counter weight-loss pill called StarCaps the players apparently took.

The makers of StarCaps have suspended shipments of the product after allegations it contains the banned substance, which the manufacturers do not list as an ingredient.

One of the grounds for the players' appeal was that they simply were taking the product to reach prescribed weight standards. However, the NFL policy states: "The use of so-called 'blocking' or 'masking' agents is prohibited by this policy. These include diuretics or water pills, which have been used in the past by some players to reach an assigned weight. Players are responsible for what is in their bodies."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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