Just the beginning…

The suspensions that the football world waited for arrived Tuesday, when the league announced six players will be suspended four games for violating the NFL Policy on Anabolic Steroids and Related Substances.

The six players — Minnesota’s Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, New Orleans’ Charles Grant, Deuce McAllister and Will Smith, and Houston’s Bryan Pittman — each are suspended for the final four games of the regular season. If the player’s team qualifies for the playoffs, he is eligible to return to the active roster on Monday, December 29.

Moments after the suspensions were announced, one person close to the players fired back a text message that read: “I suspect that ALL will be appealed and ALL will be eligible to play since (Dr. John) Lombardo knew the supplement was tainted and didn’t alert the league or the Players Association.”

The league said the players specifically violated a long standing provision of the policy relating to the use of diuretics and water pills, which serve as masking agents for steroids and are potentially dangerous to the health of players.

The policy states that the use of so-called “blocking” or “masking” agents, including diuretics and water pills, is prohibited and that a positive test will not be excused because it results from the use of a dietary supplement that unknowingly contained a banned substance. Supplements are not regulated or monitored by the government and players have been warned about the risks of supplement use.

“You and you alone are responsible for what goes into your body,” the policy has always stated.

“Claiming that you used only legally available nutritional supplements will not help you in an appeal…Even if they are bought over-the-counter from a known establishment, there is currently no way to be sure that they contain the ingredients listed on the packaging or have not been tainted with prohibited substances…If you take these products, you do so AT YOUR OWN RISK! For your own health and success in the league, we strongly encourage you to avoid the use of supplements altogether, or at the very least to be extremely careful about what you choose to take.”

The NFL fired its shot Tuesday but this story is far from over.

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