Rams linebacker David Vobora was suspended in 2009 for a violation of the league's substance-abuse policy. He argued all along that he was the victim of a contaminated supplement.
If you thought about Vobora's suspension at all, you may have thought something like, "Sure, likely story, pal." As it turns out, Vobora was telling the truth. A federal judge backed him up today, awarding Vobora $5.4 million in his lawsuit against the firm that manufactured the supplement.
"It is a landmark decision, not only in the industry but in the ongoing controversy that has dominated sports for the past 10 years with athletes testing positive for steroids," said R. Daniel Fleck, a Spence attorney. "So many of the athletes are claiming that they haven't cheated and the supplements have been tainted. And it's true. They are getting caught in the middle."
I have to admit to finding the story eye-opening. If an athlete tested positive for a performance enhancer and blamed a tainted supplement, I was likely to scoff. Perhaps now I won't be so quick to reach for the skepticism.
Vobora tested positive for methyltestosterone after using a spray manufactured by a company called "S.W.A.T.S." or "Sports With Alternatives to Steroids." The spray was not on the list of NFL-approved supplements, but after studying the list of ingredients and calling the NFL supplement hotline, he believed the product to be safe.
It wasn't. Today, the courts agreed that the product contained something it shouldn't have.
The same company was in the news in January of this year when Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson cut his ties with the company after it was learned that they sold a product containing IGF-1, a substance banned by the NFL. The company's owner claims that the product was distributed to various NFL players. You can read a lot more information on the company, the product, and the players who allegedly used it here.
It's not the first time Vobora's beaten the odds. He was drafted in 2008 as Mr. Irrelevant, the last player taken in the draft. He's one of the few that's actually gone on to make the team, and had assumed the starting job in his sophomore season.
Today, he beat a steroid rap. Remind me in the future not to bet against David Vobora.