The NFL has suspended free agent quarterback Tim Couch for six games because Couch violated the league's steroid policy, an NFL spokesman said Wednesday.
Couch told Yahoo! Sports in a story about his recent comeback attempt that while recovering from shoulder surgery he briefly used human growth hormone, which is banned by the NFL. Couch denied using steroids, but Yahoo! Sports later obtained documents showing that steroid prescriptions were filled in Couch's name at Lowen's Drug Store in Brooklyn, N.Y. earlier this year.
The six-game suspension began during Week 3 of the NFL season and runs through Week 8 even though Couch is not in the league. He was cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Aug. 18.
"The player serves the suspension at the time the disciplinary decision is made, whether he is active, injured, or a free agent," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an e-mail.
Attempts to reach Couch for comment were unsuccessful. An employee of Couch's agent, Tom Condon, declined to comment.
Aiello said all 32 NFL teams were notified of the suspension Tuesday through a daily personnel notice, but that he could provide no additional information because of confidentiality provisions in the league's drug testing policy.
Couch, the first overall pick by the Cleveland Browns in the 1999 NFL draft, has not played in a regular-season NFL game since 2004. He was released by Jacksonville less than a month after signing a two-year contract. At the time, a Jaguars spokesman said the team's decision to release Couch was based on the quarterback's performance, not knowledge of allegations that Couch used steroids during his comeback. Couch also said he passed a drug test when he joined the Jaguars.
The source who provided Yahoo! Sports with copies of the pharmacy records is a former business associate of the nutritionist Couch had worked with since January 2006. The source, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity because he said he fears for his safety, said the New York pharmacy provided him with copies of the records because he got a commission on all prescriptions filled for patients he referred to Lowen's. Those patients included Couch and other clients of Couch’s nutritionist, Brian Yusem, the source said.
Tim Couch is listed as the client name for eight prescriptions on a report from July 1, 2006 to Sept. 26, 2006. The prescriptions in Couch's name are for anabolic steroids such as testosterone, stanozolol, oxandrolone and other drugs commonly taken as part of a steroid regimen.
Copies of the pharmacy records include information such as client names, drug names, quantity of the drugs purchased and the last name of the prescribing doctor. "Charles" is the last name of the doctor who prescribed all of the drugs in Couch's name.
Glenn Charles is a cosmetic surgeon who told Yahoo! Sports he occasionally fills prescriptions Yusem's clients. In previous interviews, Charles said privacy laws prevented him from discussing specifics about any patients or prescriptions he has written.
Free agent defensive end Kenard Lang was also banned six games.