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Reports: Dolphins running back Ricky Williams violates NFL drug policy

| Monday, May 17, 2004

MIAMI (AP) - Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams tested positive for marijuana use and faces a fine of at least $650,000 for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy a second time, according to unidentified sources quoted in three newspaper stories Saturday.

Williams said Friday that he is "in good standing with the NFL and the Dolphins," according to The Palm Beach Post, which first reported the alleged violation on its Web site.

"There is not a story here. I was in New York a few weeks ago and I did visit the league headquarters. I guess that's how rumors get started," Williams told the Post. The paper also said Williams was appealing the test.

The Post, The Miami Herald and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel all quoted anonymous sources saying that Williams had tested positive for the second time since joining the Dolphins in March 2002. The second positive test came in December, the sources said.

Williams scored a 15 on the league's testing scale _ the NFL's lowest positive score, the Post reported. Another sample came back at 14, equivalent to marijuana at a concentration of 14 nanograms per milliliter of urine, the paper said.

Because of the low score, a source told the Herald, Williams and his attorney Gary Ostrow are confident Williams could avoid the fine and a second violation of the league's policy. Williams is expected to hear a decision on the appeal within a week, the source said.

The appeal will be decided by an independent arbitrator, the source said. If he gets a favorable ruling, Williams would be out of the NFL drug-testing program because he would be considered clean for two years.

A player who tests positive once for any drug that is banned by the NFL is admitted into the treatment program for two years and is subject to as many as 10 tests a month. If a player is clean during that time, he is removed from the program.

A player who tests positive twice is fined the value equal to his pay for four games. A player who tests positive a third time is given at least a four-game suspension. A player who tests positive a fourth time is suspended for at least a season.

The NFL announces only suspensions and league spokesman Greg Aiello declined to comment to The Associated Press about Williams.

"We do not comment on test results in our program," Aiello said Saturday.

Ostrow told the AP that Williams was eager to "set the record straight."

"The way they're painting it now is very unfair. The picture that's being presented by the media is slanted, it's one dimensional," he said Saturday.

He would not comment on specifics of the allegations, citing confidentiality agreements.

"We can't comment on any player because of the confidential nature of the program unless the league announces a suspension," Dolphins spokesman Harvey Greene told the AP.

Williams' agent Leigh Steinberg did not return calls for comment.

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