U.S. drug agents inspect NFL medical staffs: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. drug agents carried out surprise inspections of the medical staffs of several National Football League teams on Sunday in an investigation of alleged prescription drug abuse in the league, the Washington Post reported. The newspaper, citing a senior law enforcement official, said agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Transportation Security Administration searched bags and questioned team doctors. A DEA spokesman told the Post the investigation followed a class-action suit filed in May by more than 1,300 retired NFL players alleging the medical staffs violated the law by giving players narcotics and painkillers to help them play through injuries, without prescriptions. The medical staffs that were questioned included those of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers, the newspaper said. The DEA was expected to inspect a total of six teams on Sunday. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said, "Our teams cooperated with the DEA today and we have no information to indicate that irregularities were found." He did not say which teams were involved. The 49ers said in a statement the DEA inspection took place while the team was in New Jersey to play the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. "The 49ers medical staff complied and the team departed the stadium as scheduled," it said. After the Buccaneers played the Washington Redskins, the Tampa Bay team said on Twitter that "authorities checked with our travel party" at Baltimore/Washington International Airport. The team boarded its plane after a five-minute delay, it said. The DEA did not respond immediately to requests from Reuters for comment. The probe was not limited to those clubs, the official told the Post. The official said it was focused on league wide practices, "including possible distribution of drugs without prescriptions or labels, and the dispensing of drugs by trainers rather than physicians," the Post said. The drug investigation comes as the NFL has been roiled by allegations of violent off-field behavior by some players. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson pleaded no contest this month to a misdemeanor charge of child abuse. Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice is appealing his indefinite suspension from the league imposed after he punched his then-fiancee. (Reporting by Peter Cooney, Kevin Murphy and Steve Ginsburg; Editing by W Simon and JS Benkoe)