The doctor who administers the NFL policy on performance-enhancing drugs told highly regarded USC linebackers Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews Jr. on Friday that neither tested positive for banned substances, including steroids, according to sources close to both players.
Cushing and Matthews were included in previous reports indicating that up to six prominent players had tested positive for performance-enhancing or recreational drugs in tests administered in February at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. Also named were Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji, Illinois cornerback Vontae Davis, Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin and UTEP kicker Jose Martinez. Cushing, Raji, Davis and Harvin all are projected to be first-round picks in the NFL draft later this month.
NFLDraftbible.com reported that Cushing and Matthews tested positive for steroids and the other four for marijuana. SI.com, meanwhile, also reported that Raji had tested positive for a banned substance.
The sources said Cushing and Matthews both went straight to Dr. John Lombardo to find out about the reports. The sources said the two players were told by Lombardo, who administers the league's drug policy, that they had nothing to worry about. The sources said Lombardo further explained to the players that if they had tested positive, they already would have received letters indicating as much. The letters reportedly were sent out three weeks ago, and the sources said that neither player received such a letter.
Representatives for Cushing, Matthews and Davis issued statements asserting that their clients hadn't tested positive. The sources close to Cushing and Matthews had no personal knowledge of whether the other four players named in the report had received letters.
A statement issued by the NFL also indicated that any players who had tested positive should already have been notified, and explained clubs have not been informed of the results of the drug screenings that were done at the combine.
"Neither the 32 clubs nor the league office know the results of drug or steroid tests taken at the 2009 combine," the statement read. "The independent medical advisors who administer the tests have notified in writing those players and only those players who tested positive at the combine."
It's unclear if these reports will have any impact on the draft. If teams find out that any players have tested positive, their draft stock will decline significantly. A player rated in the first round could easily slip to the second round if reports such as these proved to be true.
"Unfortunately, rumors about draft eligible players, including rumors about test results, begin to circulate every year at this time," the NFL's statement read. "Many of these rumors are circulated for self-serving reasons and they are terribly unfair to the players and their families."
Tom Condon, who represents Cushing, was particularly strong in his response to the report.
"There is no truth to the vicious and false rumor regarding Brian Cushing's drug test at the Combine," Condon said. "Brian, in fact, has been informed by league representatives that his test result was negative for any banned substances. Furthermore, neither the league office nor Brian's representatives have been contacted regarding a positive test."
Mark Humenik, who is one of the agents for Matthews, and Todd France, who represents Davis, also issued statements refuting the reports. Humenik's company, Athletes First, also represents Raji, but Humenik said he had yet to confirm that Raji hadn't received a letter – but he believed his client had not. The agents for Harvin and Martinez did not return messages.